On Saturdays we usually celebrate the Blessed Virigin Mary “on Saturday”, or rather, “on the Sabbath”. Fr Aidan considers how as Christians we are connected with the Sabbath of the Jewish people, our ancestors in faith, and how Our Lady’s faith on Holy Saturday is a sign of hope in these difficult times.
At this Mass we are celebrating the memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary ‘on Saturday’, or, in a more literal and, I think, thought-provoking translation, ‘On the Sabbath’.
It’s interesting, I find, that this is the only way the Church (or at least the Latin church) now marks – when we do so mark it – the Jewish Sabbath. Through the person of Mary we keep up a link with the sacred day of the Jews, and that is appropriate for Mary was a Jewess, and it was through her that the Word of God became not only a human being but a human being of the seed of Abraham, and so entered on the human patrimony prepared for him by his heavenly Father through so many centuries.
We can think today of the Jewish roots of our faith and enjoy a little of that natural peace and repose, that exemption from work and strain, that reliving of the happiness of the original creation which the Sabbath was and is.
But because we are not only spiritual Semites but also Christians, we can’t stop there. The Sabbath with which Mary is forever associated is one particular Sabbath, a dark and terrible Sabbath, a Sabbath of silence, when on Holy Saturday Israel’s Messiah slept the sleep of death.
Was that death, which we proclaim in every Mass, accompanied by no faith at all, no hope at all, from the side of his own people? Was there not, as the prophets had expected, at any rate a loyal remnant to give testimony to him? There was, and its name was Mary.
The classic art of the Church never portrays our Lady as it does Mary Magdalene, desperate and dishevelled at the entombment of Christ. The Mother is bowed but unbroken. Every Jewish mother on Sabbath lights the candles for the family. Just so, in her faith and hope, Mary kept the candles of the Sabbath alight for her Son. That is what we too are called to do by our faithfulness to Christ and the Church in a difficult time.