Christ is risen!
This Sunday we commemorate the Myrrh-bearing Women - how they loved our Lord and helped him after his Crucifixion. This day is like Mother’s Day and International Women’s Day rolled into one for Orthodox Christians around the world. We celebrate the fearlessness of these women setting off to anoint the Lord’s body with oil and wrap Him in clean linen. We marvel at the Mystery revealed at the Tomb by the Angel of the Lord as he asks them, “Why seek the living among the dead?" (Luke 24:5-9) This is a miracle above all miracles – the Resurrection, the fulfillment of what was promised by God for ages. By His death conquering all death, He is the Savior of the whole world. It was to the Myrrh-bearing women that the Salvation of the World was first revealed on Pascha. What does this mean, if anything?
Was it mere coincidence that these women disciples of the Lord received the Good News first? Was it because they were unafraid in the face of both Roman and Jewish authorities? I don’t pretend to know or even surmise why they were the first witnesses of the Resurrection, but I do hope to understand how to follow their example. These women accepted the inherent risks of walking around before dawn, defying Roman law, so that they could minister to Jesus’ body after the Crucifixion. They chose to follow the Law of Moses, and they were the first to bear witness to the fulfillment of the Law, the Blessed and Holy Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Whether this was bravery or simple duty in the face of the greatest Love the world has ever known, we can learn to thank, praise, and respond to God's love with our own love in the same way. Then, we can feel brave in the face of any life circumstance.
We might ask ourselves, “What if it was I, early Sunday morning setting out on foot for the Lord’s tomb? Who would roll away the stone from the door for (me)?” (Mark 16:3). Each of us has a metaphorical “stone” in our lives. It could be the recent passing of a loved one. Maybe, it’s a terrible divorce. Perhaps it’s the tragic loss of a child. Certainly, we all share concerns and anxieties about the COVID-19 crisis and our health, finances, and loved ones. How do we overcome our personal fears and anxieties and reach the miracle God has waiting for us?
Truly, we no longer need ask ourselves, 'who shall remove the metaphorical stone of the COVID-19 crisis?' We know it's the Lord. We just witnessed the Resurrection and we wait for His will to reveal itself. We pray and hope for this to be over sooner than later, as the uncertainties lie in not knowing how or when, or why. We are not left without help though. We can take the Light of the Resurrection, the Faith of Believing Thomas, and the Bravery of the Myrrh-bearing women with us throughout the year. Each week, starting with the Resurrection on Pascha we build up our spiritual toolbox. We add the tools of Salvation, Faith, and this week, Bravery in the face of worldly fear. We listen and learn. We know we won’t always have an answer to every question. We grow in our faith and bear witness to the Good News.
To me, the Myrrh-bearing women are personal heroes. If I spent a lifetime praying about it and trying to follow their example, I might hope to say that I, too, carried through the most difficult moments of my life with half as much faith, duty, bravery, and good works as they did.
Daisy Sparks lives in Long Island, New York with her loving husband, Corey, her two beautiful daughters, Mila and Sophie, and their wonderful grandmother, Geolina.