Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women
Mark 15:43 – 16:8
Today, on this third Sunday of Pascha, we commemorate the myrrh-bearing women: Mary Magdalene, Mary the wife of Cleopas, Joanna, Salome, Susanna, Mary and Martha the sisters of Lazarus, and Mary the mother of Apostle James. These dear souls had the courage born of love to dare to venture forth and approach the tomb of our Lord in order to anoint Him and honor Him.
While all the other disciples hid in fear of the authorities in those uncertain hours following the death of Christ, these women dared to venture out in the dark hours of the early morning to approach His tomb. Guards had been posted there to keep watch lest any of the disciples might come to take away the Body of our Lord. And the entrance to the tomb had been sealed by a huge boulder which these women had no chance of moving. From a worldly point of view there was nothing awaiting them at the tomb of Christ other than danger and probable arrest by the guards. It was an impossible situation!
Yet, they went anyway… And when they arrived at the tomb, not only had the guards fled away, but the massive boulder that sealed the tomb had been miraculously rolled aside and their way was open before them. As they entered the tomb, an angel of the Lord arrayed in a white robe was there to greet them and these courageous women were the first people to hear the wonderful news that Christ had risen.
Today we celebrate these exemplary women, the myrrh-bearers, the ones who were the first to hear the news of the resurrection. Today is the day in which we recognize those myrrh-bearers within our parishes… those exemplary women who do so much for the Lord – working for the Church, for our community, for our families. In all these ways, these women follow in the footsteps of those brave women who, using their God-given intuitive sense of love and care, courageously venture forth to do the right thing, to remain faithful. May God bless and continue to give strength and encouragement to our Orthodox women!
And as we recognize and celebrate the strength and the virtues of women, we must unfortunately acknowledge the unbelievable identity crisis which seems to be gripping our modern world. The very notion of what is a man and what is a woman is being questioned and challenged. I read in the news just the other week that a term is being adopted in universities, on capitol hill, in the media and elsewhere to no longer refer to women as women, but to use the term ‘birthing people’. What madness, and what an insult to the uniqueness and to the nobility of the God-given gifts He bestows upon a woman.
St Anthony the Great once said, in words that are prophetically accurate of our times: ‘A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, “You are mad; since you are not like us.”’
With each passing day, I think it is clear to say, that we are living in such times.
The modern world, in its ignorance, seeks to disregard and disrespect the God-given characteristics that make a man a man and a woman a woman. In pursuing what they think is freedom and liberation, they are fashioning the chains that will enslave them. God has made us male and female, and the characteristics of masculinity and femininity are distinct and complementary. We do a great disservice to our boys and girls, to our young men and our young women, when we attempt to confuse and trivialize those gender roles.
May God, and may we, have compassion on those who are so confused. Most of these poor souls are the casualties of our mixed-up, Godless culture. Let us have compassion and let us pray… but let us stand firm that we will not fall for nor condone this madness that seeks to blur the distinctions of what it means to be a human being in the fulness and the beauty as God created us.
The myrrh-bearing women demonstrate for us the incredible high-calling and specialness of what it is to be a woman of God. They shine forth those wonderful attributes of femininity which should be cherished and honored by men and women alike. Among those attributes are the feminine and maternal sense of wishing to care for someone she loves. That ‘mama-bear’ courage that will stop at nothing to assure that the one she loves is not harmed but is nurtured and cared for. That selfless and intuitive sensitivity that aligns with the frequency of God and allows her to somehow know what is needed and when.
I could go on extolling the unique attributes which make a woman such a wonder of God’s creation. Certainly, one of the most unique and miraculous attributes of womanhood is the wondrous ability to form within her womb a new creation, a new human being whom she will nurture and bring forth into this world. This is not a ‘birthing person’… this is a woman and a mother, and may we defend her and may God bless her in all these things!
Let us celebrate and glorify today the myrrh-bearing women. They exemplify all that is best in the virtues of being a woman. When all others ran away and hid for fear of the Jewish and Roman authorities, it was the women who stood by the Cross of our Lord, who anointed him and wrapped him in linen and attended His burial, and who – on that fateful and glorious day – followed their intuition and love and set out in the early morning for the tomb, to discover the stone rolled away and to be the first to hear the angelic pronouncement ‘He is not here, He is risen!’
Christ is risen! Христос воскресе! Hristos a înviat!