Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women
Fr Andrew Gliga
Dear Brothers and sisters in Christ! This past week, I had been reading some sermons given by Priests from other churches. And as I have been doing that, I came across sermons that they gave this year right before Pascha began during those preparatory weeks. It was so interesting that the message many of them gave was to take this Great Lent differently than in past years. They brought forth words of encouragement to come to as many services as one could, to be able to come and witness Christ's resurrection. And yet, only weeks later those same priests have asked the faithful to not come to Church and to stay safe in the comforts of one's own home. In fact, this Great Lent and Pascha has been different for all of us. Many of us might have had an expectation of going to more services than they did in past years. And yet, this disappointment of not being able to gather has overshadowed us all. This feeling of not being able to gather and to come to Church is one that pierces deeply in each of our hearts. However, this is exactly the same feeling that Christ's disciples had when they saw Him crucified on the cross.
Today in the Church we celebrate the feast of the Holy Myrrhbearers. Taking a step back, we see that when Christ was taken to trial, mocked, scourged, crucified, and finally buried, all his closest followers had abandoned him. They initially expected him to come and overthrow the civil authorities. Their desire was to see the nation of Israel to have earthly dominance across the whole world. When they saw Christ taken away and put to death like a common criminal, they had lost faith. On that Saturday when Christ was in the tomb, we can say that the Apostles were probably even doubting everything that Christ had taught. Everything was for naught in their minds at that point.
On the other hand, we have the Holy Myrrhbearers. These women were also Christ's followers who tended to him. They were there present with Jesus throughout his passion and after his death on the cross. They had to hasily bury Christ since they did not have time to prepare him with the common Jewish burial rites, because Sabbath day was upon them. Their plan was to come on Sunday to be able to finish preparing his body for burial. And yet so many barriers were placed before them! There were the soldiers guarding the tomb which were trained to immediately kill anyone who would approach. There was also a great stone blocking the entryway to Christ's tomb. While going to the tomb they kept asking themselves "How are we to roll away the stone?" And this did not deter them, even if it was illogical. They went forward with faith in order to complete their task, even if it meant going to their death.
And these women were rewarded greatly for their faith since they were the first witnesses of Jesus' glorious resurrection. They were the ones who preached to the Apostles and only when they saw the empty tomb and the risen Christ they then believed. This is when Christ's teaching had been fortified, when the risen Lord appeared to his followers.
What this brings us to is what does this mean for us? We have to be like the Holy women who came to Christ's tomb. They had faith that God would take care of all their troubles. We should not have despair, or doubt in God especially in this time! When the disciples were hiding in fear on Saturday, Christ was working, he was in Hades freeing those who were held captive. Today, when we are in our homes, God is working today! Maybe this is not how we expected this year to go, as the disciples did not expect Christ to die on the Cross. However, we see as with Christ's passion, something greater came out of it. We see that through his resurrection we are all given a path towards the kingdom of heaven. The same too with this pandemic, something better will come out of it, as long as we approach it with faith and trust in God.
So as we are stuck in our homes, let us not forget to have the faith of the Myrrhbearers. With faith we can heal the sick and even move mountains as Christ said. Together with faith, let us have prayer to unite ourselves with God even in our homes. God has not abandoned us, He is still present and still there. Let us join ourselves with Him in faith and prayer in order for Him to strengthen us in this time. So dear brothers and sisters, let us hold fast and do our morning and evening prayers. Let us do Akathists, read the Psalter, and do the daily scripture readings. These give us spiritual discipline in order to benefit us not only for this life but for the next. We always remember that our Church teaches that the joys in this life is only a foretaste of what will come in the next life. We should do our utmost to take things seriously about our salvation, especially when we have the time to do so now when we are in lockdown. Let us therefore use this time for growth in faith and prayer towards God.