Who shall roll the stone from the tomb for us? These words of the holy women have their own mysterious meaning. They are so edifying that love of neighbor and a desire for his spiritual benefit will not allow us to be silent about it. The tomb is our heart. The heart was once a temple, but it became a tomb. Christ enters it by means of the sacrament of Baptism, in order to dwell in us and work in us.
Before Pascha, you heard the Gospel reading in which the Lord, not long before His suffering and death, visited the home of Simon the Leper in Bethany. One woman, filled with great love and gratitude to the Savior, brought a vessel of valuable oil and poured it onto the head and feet of the Savior, wiping them with her hair. The house was filled with its aroma. But the aroma of this love was interrupted by the stench of the greedy Judas.
The gospel reading shows the diakonia carried out for the body of the crucified Jesus. The anointing done by Mary in Bethany (John 12: 3-8) is now to be done for the actual burial. But the King of Palm Sunday has already become the King of Life. This reading tells the story from Joseph of Arimathea’s taking possession of the dead body by permission of Pilate and enshrouding it and burying it with a stone being rolled against the door of the tomb. Joseph of Arimathea, an admirer of Jesus, has declared himself, by taking a risk to help.
The Christian mothers will offer our Master their most precious mirth, which is the birth, raising and education of children in the fear of God. But also the older mothers, the grandmothers and widows that are always present in the holy churches of God, may bring their ointment of tears and prayers as they piously keep the Orthodox faith and legacy passed on by our ancestors.
Actually, in terms of reason, what these weak women wanted to do was not only impossible, but was just a mad risk. And yet they went anyway. How? Why? What powerful force was drawing them? This force was the Word of God expressed in the Law of Moses. And fulfilling what was for them a holy law, they bought perfumes and went to anoint Him. This required their conscience.
Their great zeal, sacred reverence, and courage of soul passed over all the Jews’ obstacles, and all the guards at the Tomb did not shake their resolve. But one thought, but one desire led their minds and hearts— to serve the funeral of their dear Savior with fullness of faith and with reverence.
In today’s gospel passage we recognize and celebrate the virtues of the Myrrh bearing women. They are known for their dedication and service and these are truly important attributes that everyone can learn from and imitate. But what is not thought about often is the exceeding strength and courage required of them.