I recently saw that Mel Gibson is making a sequel to the Passion of the Christ movie, titled “The Resurrection”. In an interview Gibson mentioned the movie will explore, among many things, “when Jesus descended into hell”. I’ve often pondered what that was like…the time between Jesus’s death on the cross until his resurrection. Not a lot is said in scripture or church teachings about it. The Catechism of the Catholic Church does say:
“It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham’s bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell. Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him. The gospel was preached even to the dead. The descent into hell brings the Gospel message of salvation to complete fulfillment. This is the last phase of Jesus’ messianic mission, a phase which is condensed in time but vast in its real significance: the spread of Christ’s redemptive work to all men of all times and all places, for all who are saved have been made sharers in the redemption.”(par.633-634)
Wow, what a scene that must have been. Can you imagine being in this place for maybe thousands of years and then to realize that God is coming to speak to you. Boy oh boy… comb my hair, brush my teeth, and sit up straight. There are the famous words from an ancient homily on Holy Saturday that speaks about Jesus meeting Adam and Eve.
“Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. . . He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him – He who is both their God and the son of Eve. . . “I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. . . I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead.” (CCC,par.635)
To add to the suspense in Mathew’s gospel it says that after Jesus died, “the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” (Mt.27:52)
A lot more was going on during Holy Saturday then people dyeing Easter eggs and getting the Easter bonnet ready. I hope Mel Gibson is able to capture some of this in the new movie supposedly due out in 2021. Jim Caviezel believes “It’s going to be a masterpiece. It’s gonna be the biggest film in world history.” On Holy Saturday, there was a lot going on.