Holy Saturday: The Spirit of Faithful Women

March 30, 2024 | Christian Bentley | Today’s Readings

“He has been raised; he is not here. Behold, the place where they laid him.” (Mark16:6)


Two women, Mary and Mary, are moved to perform one more act of loving kindness toward Jesus — despite the probability of the body decomposing and despite their concern of who was going to move the heavy stone separating them from the body of their Lord. They wasted no time after the Sabbath buying the spices and perfumed oils needed to anoint the body. Of course, when they arrived, the impossible task was already done: the stone had been rolled away. 

Meanwhile, where were Peter and the other chosen Apostles?

Women in ancient biblical times and today continue to take the lead in acts of loving kindness, unfettered by the seemingly impossible — from the work of community organizing, advocacy, parish ministry, to many national organizations, being led by courageous women with the spirit of the Marys. It is not unknown to us as Catholics, that many of us owe a debt of gratitude for the teaching and encouragement that came from countless nuns, mothers, aunts, wives, and daughters, especially when we look at the work of Catholic social teaching and restorative justice. 

Yet, where these women so clearly carry out acts of loving kindness, it leaves many of us asking: Where are the anointed/appointed men of God? Peter and the Apostles were afraid, and rightly so. The sheer hatred, anger and violence they had witnessed from their neighbors, brothers, uncles, cousins, et cetera, toward their Rabbi Jesus left them feeling alone. And did I mention afraid? 

In our highly political and polarized society is there room to be afraid and alone? I say yes — especially in the work of justice, reform, redemption, and hope. 

We read and see repeatedly divisive messaging from some members of the faithful that leave many of us feeling like the Apostles who witnessed Jesus’ trial and murder: ‘scared to death’.  My heart goes out to the annointed and appointed men of God. It can not be easy to show up when you feel scared. 

My prayer with this Gospel reading is that the spirit of faithful women, like the Marys, encourages us to show up to perform acts of loving kindness even in the face of what feels impossible. We are reminded from this Gospel that Jesus has risen, angels have been sent to give us a message of hope to the world, and we must boldly proclaim it. But first we have to show up, uninhibited by what seems impossible, like Saint Cabrini, Mother Mary Lange, like many faithful women. It’s appropriate that we remember the Marys as we close Women’s History Month.