What did Jesus do on Holy Saturday which was the Sabbath? As a devout Jew, even in death his body rested on the Sabbath; his Soul, however was very busy doing something else.
Jesus’ Descent into Hades
Why did Jesus descend into hell? I thought that hell was for bad people. Hell is translated from the Greek, Hades, which means realm of the dead. It was a place of waiting for those righteous of the Old Testament; not for the damned. Jesus is descending to the dead as a Savior to bring redemption to those worthy of the Old Testament who have been waiting. Even in death Jesus is redeeming!
Today ( Holy Saturday) 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 bounds 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.” (quoted in CCC 635)
Jesus rose from the dead “on the first day of the week.” Because it is the “first day,” the day of Christ’s Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the “eighth day” following the sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ’s Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord’s Day-Sunday: “ We all gather on the day of the sun, for it is the first day (after the Jewish sabbath, but also the first day) when God, separating matter from darkness, made the world; and on the same day Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead.” (CCC 2174 quoting St. Justin Martyr)