Friday, April 23, 2010

The Mystery of the Myrrhbearing Women

Dear Parish Faithful,


Pascha - The Twentieth Day

Those whom Christ had asked to stay with him at the hour of his agonizing struggle, when He "began to be greatly distressed and troubled" (MK. 14:33), dropped him, ran away and renounced him. But those from whom he asked nothing remained faithful in their simple human love. "Mary stood weeping outside the tomb" (JN. 20:11). Down through the centuries, love has always wept in this way, as Christ wept at the grave of his friend Lazarus. Here then, it is this love, which first learns of the victory; this love, this faithfulness is the first to know that there is no longer any need for weeping, for "death is swallowed up in victory" (I COR. 15:54), and hopeless separation is no more.

This is what the Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women means. It reminds us that the love and faithfulness of a few individuals shone brightly in the midst of hopeless darkness. It calls us to ensure that in this world love and faithfulness do not disappear or die out. It judges our lack of courage, our fear, our endless and servile rationalizations. The mysterious Joseph and Nicodemus, and these women who go to the grave at dawn, occupy so little space in the gospels. Precisely here, however, is where the eternal fate of each of us is decided."

And if, despite all the evil that dominates the world, the mysterious feast of life still continues, if it is still celebrated in a poverty-stricken room, at a barren table, just as joyously as in a palace, then the joy and light of this feast is in her, in woman, in her never-fading love and faithfulness. "The wine gave out ..." (JN. 2:3), but while she is here - mother, wife, bride - there is enough wine, enough love, enough light for everyone ...

Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Celebration of Faith, Vol. 2

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