A meditation for Holy Saturday…
From Volume II of the book by Rev. Henry Coleridge. London: Burns and Oates, 1876.
Still there was no provision made for the solemn entombment of our Lord. The disciples were still scattered and in hiding. St. John alone was there, with our Blessed Lady, St. Mary Magdalene, and some others of the holy women. They had no influence to obtain the sacred Body, no strength or means for taking it down from the Cross. But now the power of the Cross, which had worked so wonderfully in the conversion of the penitent thief, began to show itself among the very classes which had been prominent in the plots against our Lord. Joseph of Arimathea, a man of noble birth and high position, who had taken no part in the condemnation of our Lord, though he had kept his faith in Him hidden for fear of excommunication, went courageously to Pilate and asked for the Body of our Lord. Pilate ascertained from the centurion that He was already dead, and then gave Joseph full leave. Another hidden disciple, Nicodemus, came forward with a large quantity of myrrh and aloes for the embalming. The sacred Body was reverently lowered from the Cross and
carefully washed. It rested first in the arms of His Blessed Mother, and then was wrapped in a long clean linen sheet with the aromatic herbs. This was not a regular embalmment, for which there was no time, but it was as much as could be done then, and our Lord had already said that [Mary of Bethany] had anointed His Body for His burial. Joseph had a small garden close at hand, in which he had made a new sepulchre for himself. No one had yet lain in it. It was an excavation in the rock, with a slab inside, on which the sacred Body was now laid. Joseph with the others rolled a huge stone to the mouth of the sepulchre, and then, as the sun was setting and the Sabbath beginning, he went home with the rest. The women lingered the last. Our Blessed Lady was conducted by St. John to the house of the Cenacle, which became, as it seems, the first home of the Church. Some of the other women went into the city and prepared some aromatic spices and unguents before the Sabbath began. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph sat down over against the sepulchre and watched it as night fell. They came back again on the following evening, after the Sabbath was over, and saw that all was as it had been left. But in the meanwhile, the priests, who were still full of alarm, begged of Pilate that a guard might be stationed around the spot until the third day came. They had heard of our Lord s prophecy that He would rise again the third day, and so, by the Providence of God, they set to work to secure the truth of the fulfillment of that prophecy against all possible cavil, thinking at the time that they were only preventing the possibility of the Body being removed by His disciples.
My commentary: When Jesus dies, there is no definite place to put the body. Just as there is no definite place that He will be born, there is no definite place that He will be buried, but Providence is at work in each case, and in each cave. He was born in a cave He “did not own” and was buried in a cave He “did not own,” although He really owned the whole universe.