HOLY SATURDAY 1991

Each of the last three days in Holy Week has been given a special name. A nickname if you like. Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday.

Let us look together at these three words Maundy, Good and Holy, because they have something important to say it was about the beliefs which we profess.

"Maundy" comes from the Latin word "mandamus' meaning a "command which carries authority". People are given a mandate by their superiors to act on their behalf with other people. Literally it means a "putting into the hand" and in the old days it might take the form of a scroll or rod or a seal which was literally 'put into someone's hand' to show that they had been commissioned to act in a certain way.

So Jesus said his Apostles on Maundy Thursday "a New mandate I give you to love one another as I have loved you"

This means we can expect that being faithful to Christ will involve obeying commandments, respecting authority and fulfilling commissions. Some people try to tell you that we shouldn't be bothered about such things. But unless we take what Jesus said seriously in such matters as washing one another's feet, breaking the Bread and sharing the Cup, or staying awake to watch and pray with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, what hope is there that we shall turn into the sort of beings He died to enable us to become?

Then there is Good Friday. Goodness require sacrifice. Nothing is good that is not holy, and sacrifice is what makes things, and people holy. Jesus didn't just come to give us new commandments. He came to be the perfect sacrifice. What the blood of bulls and goats could never do, Christ's "Lo, I come to do your will O God" really achieved. The old Sacrifice of bulls and goats has given way to the new Sacrifice: the self-offering to the Father by His only-begotten Son of Himself who was in every way perfect, replaced the Old Covenant. He 'takes away the one in order that he may establish the other', as the writer to the Hebrews tells us.

Finally 'Holy' Saturday. To be holy is to be a whole, entire, complete, free from sin and corruption. That is what the Resurrection is about. Mortal bodies, bodies which are subject to decay and death like ours, cannot inherit the kingdom of God any more than corruption can inherit in corruption and its top a holy body was prepared for Jesus to inherit; a holy body awaits each one us when we die.

The Passion death and resurrection of Jesus which we have been celebrating over these last three days contains (in a nutshell so to speak) the three ingredients which make our faith both credible and liveable.

Maundy Thursday tells us about command, authority, call it what you will; sacrifice obedience and self-giving are the message of Good Friday; and to complete the picture Holy Saturday speaks to us of holiness and completeness. God has called us out of darkness into light in order that we may be partakers in his resurrected and glorified body.

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