The Longest Day

My heart is a little giddy with excitement and anticipation for tonight’s Easter Vigil Mass. It is my favorite Mass of the whole year, with Christmas Midnight Mass a close second. It has been a long and dark Lent for me, and the hope Easter brings is fresh and renewed.

It is easy to live this day, the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, as a post-Resurrection people. We know what happens tomorrow. But I suspect that this was the longest and loneliest day for Mary, the Apostles, and the other disciples.

Just yesterday, in one day, her only son, their beloved teacher and friend, was arrested, tried, convicted, tortured, and crucified to death. The Apostles scattered for fear for their lives.

Now they wake up today. They sough to regroup. But around what, who? The very center of their lives had been lost in what appears as total humiliation and defeat. What to do? Not much I suppose since it was the Sabbath. All they could really do was wait, and pray. What else is there to do when hope seems lost, faith all but crushed? But wait for what? How much did they really believe about all of Jesus’ talk about rising up on the third day?

Poor Peter. I wonder if he cried all through the night and through the rest of the day knowing his denial? What did Mary do in her grief? What did Mary Magdalene and the other disciples do? When did they learn the truth about Judas? Did the Apostles bicker among themselves? Did they second-guess themselves, playing the we should have done this or not that games?

Oh! The passage from darkness to light, the unknown to the known. At the time, it seems like the slow, long death of everything, but from the other side, it is only the quick, short birth of the new. Death pangs and birth pangs, are they really different?