We are celebrating today the Third Sunday after Pascha in which we commemorate the brave myrrh-bearer women. Indeed brave because they were with Jesus in His death and now, after death they are still with Him. As faithful apprentices they were following their Lord beyond death.
As the Lord has died in Holy Friday, they could not do a proper embalming of the body since in a day of Sabbath one was not allowed to work according to the Jewish tradition. So at the first hours of the morning in the day after the Sabbath, Sunday, they went to finish their duty. and embalm the body of Christ resting in the tomb.
For their great dedication they will receive a precious gift from God, through the voice of an Angel, being the first to know that Jesus Christ is resurrected and see the proof empty shroud lying in the tomb. As one of the verses from today's morning service says. "In saying rejoice to the myrrh-bearers, You allayed the lament of the first mother Eve, at Your Resurrection O Christ our God." The women we see today are not following in the disobedient footsteps of their grandmother, but in the footsteps of Christ.
Of this holy story there is a detail that I would like to comment on today. The myrrh-bearers were looking for Iēsoun ton estaurōmenon,Jesus the Crucified. This name of shame will become soon His name of glory. He will not be known just as Jesus of Nazareth, but also as Jesus the Crucified. It is important since many of today's Christians are looking for a Jesus that fits their needs, that is not crucified. My assistant at work for instance she told me once that she loves wearing crosses but she does not like the ones with Christ on them. She's scared of those. But what is a cross if Jesus is not on it. A dead symbol. Nothing more.
Why people don't like a crucified Christ you'll ask me? Because Jesus from the Cross is demanding. Because they do not want to follow some One that says: pick-up your cross and follow me. They want somebody that will say, yeah you're doing just fine, carry on in your sins, don't worry, I'm merciful and will forgive anything you do. A Jesus that is only loving but not just, a Jesus that we can trick without any consequences.
But no, when He came back from the dead, as we saw last week, and showed Himself to the Apostles, the prints of His wounds were there, a testimony of His eternal crucifixion. Saint Apostle Toma felt them with his hands. The marks were there. Jesus Christ will always be the Crucified as the myrrh-bearer women called Him today.
The myrrh-bearers showed today that they can lift the cross of their duty and came to the Lord and served Him even in death. proved to be the kind of women all women need to be; doing their duty to God in the harshest times, carrying their cross through life with bravery.
The Orthodox women have proven to be like this over the centuries, keeping the faith, praying for their husbands gone to war in times of need, raising children in the fear of God, doing memorial services in due time for the loved ones fallen asleep in the Lord and so forth. I don't know why but the men seem always to have more important things to do when these duties come up. Not all of them of course.
God made us different, men and women and different is our mission in the world. I'm not saying with this that the women should all stay at home and cook while the husband reads the newspaper. No. But women have an important role in the family. They are the gentle ones, the bearers of sweet fragrance in their homes; their ways are calmer and can bring peace in the family environment. They are the love that fills all things.
I was discussing with few parishioners on Wednesday about the fact that our homes and our families are like small churches in which we are trying, following the model of the Greater Church to carry on what we learn on Sundays: to pray, to fast, to catechize our children, to live a life in Jesus Christ. However, if in the Church the priest is always a man, in our homes the priest is most of the times the woman.
The woman is making sure her kids know the history of salvation, that they say the daily prayers, that they are well mannered in society, that they confess to her their hearts. She is comforting her husband coming from work, despite the fact that she has her own problems. She literally is the soul of the house, sacrificing herself everyday for the greater good of the family. And she does that because of her love, for her family and for Christ.
But, as every soul she needs nourishment. And this advice is for the men, because we forget very often that our beloved wives need our attention, a nice word, a flower sometimes is worth more than a hand in the kitchen. (maybe not always).
Man and women are made for each other, are made to complete each other in salvation, to carry together their cross, following Jesus Christ the Crucified. Together they should bring the sweet fragrance of salvation into their homes.
Let us then prey to our Lord Jesus Christ to give us all the faith, the love and the sense of duty of the myrrh-bearer women, so we could both, women and men, live a life in Jesus Christ. Amen