Earn this

“Descent into Hell” by Tintoretto, 1568

“Descent into Hell” by Tintoretto, 1568

Holy Saturday. Christ in the tomb, apparently dead to the world. Dead to those who swore they would never abandon him, yet did. Peter, inconsolable.

While sitting here just now the final words of Captain Miller in the movie Saving Private Ryan came into my mind. I was mediating upon the quote from St. Bonaventure below and suddenly there I was, on the bridge with Miller and Private James Francis Ryan. The words Miller spoke to his young charge are no less than the words spoken to me on this day of waiting and of prayer. I have the benefit of knowing what will come with the dawn on Easter Sunday. For those to whom the Resurrection had not yet occurred “Earn this” may have fallen on deaf and grief-stricken ears. He had not risen. They knew nothing of the Pentecost to come. All they knew is that all of their bluster and bravado had failed when it counted most and their Master was dead.

But not so for us. We are an Easter People. We know the Dawn.

His sacrifice. Our freedom.

“O good Jesus, how generously have You given us, on the Cross, all You had! To Your executioners, Your loving prayer; to the thief, Paradise; to Your Mother, a son, and to the son, a Mother; to the dead, You gave back life, and you placed Your soul in Your Father’s hands; You showed Your power to the entire world, and shed, through Your wide and numerous wounds, not a few drops, but all Your Blood, to redeem a slave! … O meek Lord and Savior of the world, how can we thank You worthily?” (St. Bonaventure*)

How can we thank Him worthily?

We can strive to earn what we did not deserve, yet was so freely given.


*Divine Intimacy, by Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. (Baronius Press, 2010). p. 401.


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