One of the fabulous images for Holy Saturday is that of Jesus—after his descent into death—pulling Adam and Eve out of their tomb, their prison, and into the light and air. Their shackles fall away. Their eyes blink at the light. It’s the so-called “harrowing of hell” theme (it’s not really hell of course, but Sheol, “the land of the dead”—in Christian terms, the reality of having lived and died without knowing God’s gift in Christ). It reminds us that Jesus came to save all people, from the very beginning to the end of time.
Of course, it’s a human feeling to wonder about the fate of people who have died. For catechumens, coming for the most part from non-Christian families who did not hear or embrace Christ and his message, there is the special poignancy here. They have found Christ. They wish to celebrate his victory fully. But sometimes there is a shadow of sadness that someone dear will not be “at the table” with them on Holy Saturday night.
I do not think it’s always easy to put these things into words. But the image helps. The hands of Jesus reach out to Adam and Eve. He can do this.