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Desperate, Silent Saturday

Updated: May 17

The Upper Room had become a prison of fear, guilt and shame 



As we progress through the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday), it is striking that not a single stroke of the pen in Sacred Scripture is dedicated to Holy Saturday. 


We know that the Upper Room was the meeting place for the Apostles. They likely would have all retreated there individually shortly after Our Blessed Lord’s body was entombed and the stone rolled across it. 


So, we must leave to our imaginations somewhat, what was going on in that room Friday night, all day Saturday and Sunday morning. 


It isn’t all speculation or imagination, however. The gospels do offer hints as to how things were. 


We know they were terrified of being tracked down by the Jewish leaders and executed. We know they did not believe that Our Lord would rise from the dead (although ironically, Jesus’ enemies DID believe it, at least to a degree). 


This was a band of brothers united not in hope, but in fear and guilt and in Simon Peter’s case, shame. 


So trapped, so imprisoned in their fear, guilt and shame were they – that even after a report from Mary Magdalene that she had seen and touched Our Lord, they still did not believe. We know this from the words of the disciples on the road to Emmaus who said it to Our Lord. 


Even one week later, with all his brother Apostles literally witnessing to him, Thomas refused to believe. 


There is really only one reason there would be so much doubt and despair. The crucifixion itself must have been SO HORRIFYING to behold, so trauma-inducing, that in their hearts and minds they could not even imagine the resurrection. So complete was the trauma that there was no room for hope of any kind. 


And recall that just one week before, Peter, James and John had been taken up the mountain by Our Lord where He allowed His Divinity to radiate through His humanity – a foretaste of the Resurrection to strengthen them in advance of the horror they would witness a few days later. 


Even that, the Transfiguration which those three beheld with their own eyes (and each later wrote about in their epistles) was not enough to overcome what those same eyes beheld on Golgotha. 


What were the conversations between them that Friday night and all day long on Saturday? Were there conversations at all? Were there recriminations among them; tears and confusion; self-flagellation that they had been “fooled” in giving three years of their life to what was now seen as a dead-end cause? 


Were they scared to go outside to get some food lest a stranger recognize them and report them? Did they send the women instead? Whatever their collective interactions, there is one of them, in particular, that bears special meditation and thought – Simon, Son of John. 


Above all of them – his heart, his emotions, his mind was the most pained, confused, isolated – even among the others.  


After all, at the inspiration of God the Father, it had been Simon Peter who had professed Our Lord’s Messiahship for which Jesus appointed him head of the Apostles at Caesarea Philippi. It had been Simon Peter who had uttered the beautiful words, “Lord, to Whom would we go? You have the words of everlasting life.”, at Capernaum when the masses abandoned Him at the announcement of, He, Himself being the bread of life and the necessity to eat His Flesh as a condition of salvation. 


Simon Peter loved Our Lord and was so overcome by his love for Him that he frequently acted rashly and even abrasively because of it.  It was precisely because of that depth of love that he committed the gravest sin in human history – he blasphemed the man he knew to be divine.  


The scriptures frequently understate and underplay – almost sanitize events – and Simon’s public betrayal of Our Lord is one such occasion. Before the cock crowed – as Our Lord had prophesied to an incredulous Peter – Peter cursed the name of the God-Man who a mere two hours earlier he had announced he would die for. 


Imagine whatever sordid, filthy, scandalous, cursing, crude terms you can – and Peter bellowed them out at the fire in the courtyard about Jesus. It wasn’t just a denial about knowing Jesus; it was cursing Him. It was the most bitter betrayal possible; Judas never even came close to this. In fact, Judas did at least express remorse. 


As Jesus was being led away after the trial before Caiaphas, He turned and looked at Peter who had cursed Him moments before, and then the cock crowed. And Peter went out and wept bitterly. 


That look from Our Lord, the moment their eyes met – Love staring at Blasphemous Betrayal – provoked the only response a human being could muster – an abundance of tears; tears, we are told by tradition, poured down Peter’s face for the rest of his life, creating tracks or small grooves in his face.  


While the other 10 Apostles, and likely the women, including Our Lady were in, or perhaps in and out of the room, they remained hidden and locked away while Simon crouched isolated in the corner – too ashamed to be present to them – a traitor among other traitors: the Supreme Traitor. 


What thoughts, what level of self-recriminations flashed through his mind, even taking up residence with a self-condemnation that without the resurrection which he was not anticipating would have been his lot in life until his death. 


And bear in mind as you think on this – for Simon at that moment, that IS what he believed would be the rest of his life; trapped in an indescribable shame that was beyond words and no one else could relate to.  


That “look” from Our Lord, those accusations from the attendants, the heat of that fire now burning inside him, those blasphemies and curses freely flowing from him and that cock crowing. All of it replaying over and over in his mind, the memory of his actions never ending, torturing him, eating him alive. 


Yes, the other Apostles had their own guilt, their own self-accusations, but Simon had been the leader chosen especially by the man who called him to climb out of the boat and walk to Him on the water; to pay the temple tax for both of them in a single payment by way of a miracle. 


Our Lord had associated Simon with Himself in a singular manner which He did not do with any of the others. He changed his name to signify his importance and responsibility, which would be his cross of authority in the future. 


Curled up crouching in the corner, isolating himself from his fellow traitors, weeping, self-accusing, self-hating, he saw no end to his pain. His crime was far greater than theirs and he knew it. They were all guilty, but to Simon’s guilt was added the prison of shame.  


And in the normal run of human events, this is where the story would have ended, but the Upper Room prison of shame was about to have its walls and iron doors blown wide open for him – as would happen for him later when the angel came and led him out of the prison cell. 


That was a physical prison, from which men can sometimes escape. THIS was a prison from which escape is not possible on one’s own. 


The God-Man who had come to set prisoners free and rescue the broken-hearted as Isaiah prophesied, came and did just that. 


Luke reveals to us, almost as an afterthought seemingly, that Our Lord and Simon had a private encounter which certainly would have occurred after Peter returned from investigating the empty tomb. 


Suddenly his shame, his self-loathing, could be placed on hold if only for a moment as he wondered and thought to himself on the way back from the tomb about what was going on. 


He had some facts to turnover in his mind. The tomb was certainly empty and there was no sign of His body; Mary Magdalene said she had seen Him. Perhaps previous events with Our Lord began coming to his thoughts – the Transfiguration, the raising of Lazarus from the dead, the miracles of the loaves, the walking on water. 


Now there was a competition in his mind and heart – what he had seen and heard for three years with his own eyes and what he had seen and heard in the garden and the following day; and, of course, his own personal demon of shame – there was that! 

Yet still – where was the body? On the way down the mount of Transfiguration he along with James and John had discussed quietly among themselves what “risen from the dead meant”. 


All of this was playing in his mind, heart and conscience, and suddenly in the blazing heat and brilliance of His resurrection and glorified body, his Master appeared to Him and “looked” at him once again. 


The last look they had exchanged imprisoned Simon; this look broke that prison wide open.  


He was guilty, yes, and the price would still have to paid for that; but shame, shame is from Satan because it imprisons a soul – and the Son of God came to set prisoners free! 

Scripture does not record for us what Our Lord said to Him, if in fact anything. But we know He did appear to him for he could not allow a man who so deeply loved him to remain imprisoned in shame. 


It was in this same room – a few days before, He had told Peter that Satan wished to sift him like wheat and Satan was in the process of doing just that – destroying through Simon’s trauma, Christ’s Church before it even got off the ground. 


But Our Lord had also said, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come back to you”, and here He NOW was, blowing open prison doors, destroying Simon’s shame, erasing the blasphemy of Peter from three days earlier. 


There was work to be done and shame could not be used as a weapon by the enemy to curtail that work. Guilt is from the Holy Spirit; Shame is from the Devil. 


Our Lord would, weeks later by the Sea of Tiberius, present Simon with the opportunity to undo his blasphemous denials and thus restore him to Peter, from which he had fallen back to Simon that night in the courtyard by the fire. 


But this moment – this first Easter Sunday morning – apart from the other Apostles, Simon had to be released from his prison of shame. “I have come to heal the broken-hearted and to set prisoners free”. It is not difficult to imagine those words spilling from the mouth of our Savior to Simon as He looked at him once again. 


Gary Michael Voris holds a graduate degree, Cum Laude, from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. Voris earned multiple awards for 40+ years of news media experience for writing, producing, and investigative work from the Associated Press, Detroit Press Club, Michigan Broadcasters Association, as well as four news Emmys in multiple categories. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1983 with an undergraduate major in Communications and a minor in History.


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36 comentários


So glad you wrote this article and also briefly made available the episode from the Extraordinary Road from which the text comes. The words 'Guilt from the Holy Spirit and Shame from the Devil' stuck with me and touched me. I had looked for the episode (to see if I remembered them correctly), but found the words here instead. Thank you for your kindness.

Curtir

Judith Kern
Judith Kern
01 de abr.

Dearest Michael, thank you for this beautiful piece. One can feel the emotion and pain embedded in this piece that only you could convey to your followers and the likely evidence of Peter and his momentary betrayal and his deep sorrow and repentance that we ALL have ex-perienced during our time on this earth. Yes, we ALL have our crosses to bear, some heavier than others, nonetheless, they are present and we all must bear them. Some of us bear those crosses better than others. But Christ is always there, waiting and rejoicing as the Prodigal son returns. We have ALL been that Prodigal son at one time or another and welcomed back with great joy. He welcomes u…

Curtir

Thank you Michael! May this Easter the Risen Lord deliver you from your shame and from your bondages. Let of those be in the past, buried with Him and now may your soul that was always thirsting for the Lord, rise and be enkindled again with the fire of His Love! This is my prayer for all of us too, but most especially for you, as you have been missed by all of us, even as we’re from up north of your nation. Viva Christo Rei! And God bless you. May the devil who has been defeated already, depart fro us all, and may the Precious Blood of Jesus, and His Divine Mercy, cover us all. Please keep up the…

Curtir

Wanda Henry
Wanda Henry
01 de abr.

Beautifully written, Michael and extremely reflective! So glad that you are back-praying for you daily and trusting that God will continue to lead you in the way He wants you to go! You have been sorely missed.


Curtir

Beautiful! Thank you Michael with lots of love and prayers!

Curtir
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