I remember being nine or ten years old, not yet fully aware of the immensity of our faith, but starting to see glimpses of what it meant to be Catholic. Our family was crowded into a pew in our parish for the Good Friday service, and my mom leaned over and gestured to the empty tabernacle, “He’s not there today. It’s the only day in the entire year that the Mass isn’t celebrated, not anywhere in the world.”
I nodded, not totally understanding the sorrow in her voice, and I looked up past the altar toward the gaping, open door, the curtain pushed aside revealing His absence. Even now as an adult, my heart still seizes up to walk into an “empty” church; the void is tangible—His Body and Blood reposed elsewhere for the solemn and sorrowful hang time between Good Friday and the Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday.
God died for us.
The weight of it is unfathomable. And it is perhaps most acutely felt in those empty, wondering hours, the bridge between Lent and Eastertide.
What if He hadn’t come back?
What if it had all ended there, on that hill, on that Cross, the way nearly all the Disciples believed it had?
Oh God, the weight of it.
Jesus, as You hung there, bleeding out and breathing Your last, You had us in mind. And not some amorphous mass of humanity, but each one of us, individually sufficient to merit the sacrifice. How?
This love is wild. Beyond all reason. And yet it is the very essence of reason, that You alone would be capable of righting it, of righting us.
Jesus, you rescued us. You ransomed us. And you continue to do so, inebriating us with the gift of Your Body and Blood at every single Mass throughout all of history.
Except for today. Today we remember and we keenly feel what could have been permanent: the loss, the absence, the gaping wound rent in the fabric of time and space by a God, dead and buried at the hands of His own creation, Who chose us—Who still chooses us today.
Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.
Take 20 minutes to pray the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary with your family. Keep your kids home from school if possible, and mark the hours between noon and 3 pm with prayerful silence and a media fast. Dim the lights at sunset and let your home sit in expectant darkness, explaining to your kids that we await the return of Christ our light.
Jenny Uebbing is a freelance writer and editor for Catholic News Agency. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband Dave and their small army of toddlers. You can find out more about her faith, thoughts on bioethics, and potty training failures here.