April 30 or close to the second Sunday after Pascual, the Orthodox Church commemorates a number of people connected with the final events of Jesus’s life who were important witnesses to His death and resurrection. These are four of the myrrh-bearing women who came to anoint the body of Jesus. Joseph of Arimathea who was a rich and noble man, and a member of the Privy Council of Jerusalem buried Jesus. Nicodemus helped him. He believed in Christ when, at the beginning of His preaching, Jesus came to Him by night. Nicodemus brought 100 pounds of myrrh and aloes to scent and embalm the body of Christ out of reverence and love. (John 19:39). These two men were not official followers of Jesus. Their presence points to the power of conversion and our involvement in events we get swept up in.
Three accounts name the Myrrh-Bearing Women who went to anoint the body of Jesus and discovered it empty. Eight women are named. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Joseph the Little and Jose, Salome, Mary of Clopas, Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, Susanna, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee are named. Mary the “mother of Jesus,” is not referred to in any of the accounts and I would wonder where was she. Exhausted with grief. In John 19:25, she was at the foot of the Cross, that might have been enough or too much for any moth to bear. Amazing to me that finally, this is when the gospel writers took the time to specifically name His female disciples.
The Myrrh Bearing Women did not mysteriously disappear following the Resurrection of Christ. These brave and forceful women, persistent in their love and devotion, neither lost faith in Him after His death nor feared the wrath of the Jewish rulers. After everyone else had abandoned and denied Christ, they remained faithful. They were willing to risk imprisonment and public scrutiny for going to the tomb to anoint the body of the Lord. As a reward, they were the first to witness the resurrection. St. Matthew’s Gospel says, “ Women came to the tomb, bearing the myrrh oils they had prepared to anoint His body.” It is because of the myrrh-oils, we know the names of eight women humble women who would otherwise be unknown to the world.
These women had been together a lot during Jesus’ three-year public ministry. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and others (Luke 8:3) are described as providing for Jesus out of their possessions acting as deaconesses. These same women had faithfully followed him from Galilee and had come up with him to Jerusalem. To celebrate the memory of the Myrrh-bearing Women is to rejoice with them as we enter a new beginning and new life in the spirit. An angel greeted them with these words: “Why do you seek the Living among the dead? Why do you mourn the incorruptible amid corruption? Go, proclaim the glad tidings to His disciples!” Christ himself commanded the women to rejoice, seek, and find life’s fullness through spiritual life.
Scriptures : Matthew 27:55–61, Matthew 28:1–10, Mark 15:40–16:11, Luke 23:50–24:10, John 19:38–20:18).