Sunday of the Myrrh-Bearers
Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He is risen
Luke 24: 5, 6.
The holy women in their devotion had planned to anoint the remains of our Lord with spices and ointments after the manner of Jewish burial preparation. They had seen him die on the cross and be carried to a newly hewn-out-of-rock tomb. They certainly knew the place. But as they arrive they discover Jesus is gone! In his place stand two angels who remind them of the prediction of Jesus that He would be crucified and then on the third day be raised from the dead.
If they had listened carefully, understood without hesitation and believed without condition in the first place, they would not have expected to find his body in the tomb. But none of the followers of our Lord understood his prediction; they were all astoundingly surprised by his resurrection from the dead. Breathless and with excitement, the women rushed back with the wonderful news, but the eleven disciples and the others did not believe their report.
So our most important question on this Sunday is "Do we believe?" "Do I believe?" "Do you believe?" Simply because Christ rose from the dead, we do know our world is heading for redemption, not disaster. We do know without equivocation that death is conquered and overcome and that we, too, will be raised from the dead to live and reign forever with Christ. We know the Saviour and Redeemer lives, ruling his kingdom and that God's power which brought Jesus back from the dead is also available to us so that we can join him in everlasting life when we leave this evil world forever.
So we do not seek the living among the dead! Of him who once was slain, we now hear the angels sing, "He lives!" We fervently believe what He himself predicted that He would rise! What a joyful sound the words of the angels echo for us! What a glorious hour the early morning resonates! By his almighty reverberating power, He rose and leaves behind an empty tomb! That is why we sing so frequently, often and triumphantly, "Christ Is Risen!" we wish to imprint on our conscious and subconscious psyche the reality and shattering truth of our own victory, our own triumph, so that we make it our personal own and so it can guide in daily living our destiny. The songs of the Church tell our triumph, celebrate him who burst the boundaries of death, overcame the forsaken place of hell and forever lives to save. The first-begotten of the dead, as our glorious head introduces us to never-ending life once again. The Resurrection causes us to share the victory of our Leader to triumph with the eternal King! We sing Alleluia today, over and over again. Because it means "Praise God!" we see death no longer as a threat or possessed of a sting. Death has lost its power and the grave no longer has victory. Since He shares with us our human nature and body, so like him, we too will rise and share victory with him. That is why for us the celebration of Resurrection Day is not equaled anywhere. Hail, we sing, Resurrection glory, Alleluia!
Those women who were eager to serve the Lord even in his death, at the tomb make the grandest discovery of all: the risen Christ! The startling account reveals they went to proclaim the glorious news to the disciples themselves. It is through women that the most important, most exciting and riveting news of Christianity is made known to the eagerly awaiting world. "Rabboni," is a term which carries the most respect, utmost respect, reverence and loving devotion. It is a more emphatic and honored term than the simple "rabbi" or "teacher."
It is not enough that we ascribe to Christ titles of respect and tradition. We must know him and experience him as our risen Lord. We have a mandate and a mission to proclaim the Good News from personal experience just like the women in today's gospel narrative, "I have seen the Lord." We must be able to repeat and echo their conviction. Only a vibrant encounter with the risen Christ and a recognition of his mighty power leads us to know him as He truly is and to share his message with others. In that discovery is our destiny.
Upon invitation from the holy women, the disciples arrive. The grave clothes lay like the shriveled, cracked shell of a cocoon, left behind when the moth has emerged and hoisted its bright sails in the sunshine, or, more accurately, like a glove from which the hand has been removed, the fingers to which still retain the shape of the hand.
In that manner, the grave clothes were lying, collapsed a little, slightly deflated, because there was between the rolls of bandage-ike cloths a considerable weight of spices and ointments, but there lay the linen cloth that had been wound around the body of the Lord.
It was when they secondarily saw that, that the disciples believed. The Greek word here for "see" - theorei - is not to behold as one looks at a spectacle, not to see as the watchmaker who peers through his magnifying glass up close.
It actually means to see with inner light that leads one to an unshakable conclusion.
It means to grasp in understanding.
It is steady perception
Inspired living faith
Comprehension more than sight.
The holy women, and through them the disciples, arrived at the conclusion the unshakable, unassailable, certain conviction that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead! To him be all glory, honor and adoration now and forever. Amen.