What did we go there to see?
The thought occurred to me more than once as we explored the dark, intimidating vastness of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
It’s certainly a major attraction. Tourists, most of them Christian pilgrims, flock there by the thousands each day.
We go to venerate Calvary, the site of Christ’s crucifixion.
We go to touch the preparation stone, where His lifeless body was laid.
We go to peer into the Edicule…erected at the site of His tomb.
But what, exactly, do we go there to see?
If the Lord is risen, why do we seem to cling to the place of His execution and burial?
Years ago, having never been to the Edicule in person, I wrote some brief meditations on the blessings to be found in the tomb. Blessings best savored, perhaps, on Good Friday…when we allow our hearts to enter into a mystery far beyond the bounds of reason…one that takes us far beyond what our mortal eyes can see.
“For a moment, it appears that victory belongs to the darkness of the tomb. We do not understand Your word that the seed must die before it bears much fruit. But what riches You, the true vine, have prepared for us!
As I approach the tomb today, help me to gaze into the dark corners of my life with eyes of faith. Stir up new life in me, and let Your life flow from me.”
2007 – You Are The Branches*
“All is quiet now, Lord Jesus, and I welcome the peace found here in the darkness of the tomb. I wait now in joyful hope, for the Easter glory to come. But even before catching a glimpse of that saving light, I am grateful for the solitude of this moment.
You are here, in the silence, eager to keep watch with me. Help me to remember this moment, Lord, when worldly pains and cares distract me. Bring my heart back to Yours.”
2011 – Your Will Be Done*
Touching the stone does indeed move my cold, stony heart.
This simple act convicts me: I know, in the touching, that we are not worthy of our Servant King, our Paschal Lamb. We could never be worthy.
And oddly, Jesus does not ask me to be worthy.
He doesn’t expect me to earn it.
Instead, he invites me to live it.
Don’t just peer into the tomb. Enter in.
Jesus, as we wait with You on Good Friday, open our hearts…open our eyes. Help us to see as You see!
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.