By Brian Niemiec
One of my earliest memories of Holy Saturday was asking my father why Grandpop only ate bread and water on the Saturday before Easter. I don’t even remember my dad’s response, but every year my Grandpop would eat only a little bread and water as he waited for Easter morning. I used to think that his practice was a continuation of the fasting and repentance that the Church practices on Good Friday. Yet this simple meal for a humble and loving man speaks less to fasting, and more to the true nature of Holy Saturday.
Each Gospel account to a greater or lesser extent portrays the Apostles in a less than flattering light. Throughout the ministry of Jesus we come to understand that at many times these twelve men were not the sharpest knives on the first century Palestine cutting block. A particularly challenging concept for them was the Resurrection. Jesus told them that the Son of God must be killed, and on the third day he will rise. He tried parables. He tried stories. He tried allegory. He tried the direct approach, and yet the Apostles were at a loss.
Due to their lack of comprehension (and faith?), the Apostles fled in fear during and after the crucifixion. Even Peter, the rock of the future Church, denies Jesus and lurks in the shadows; not daring to get too close. The first Holy Saturday was not a happy occasion. The followers of Jesus hid behind a locked door, and worried if they too would be sentenced to death. It was only after Jesus’ resurrection, when he appeared in the midst of the disciples, did the true joy and meaning of the last few days make sense.