Sunday of the Myrrhbearers

Today in the Orthodox Church we remember those women who came to the tomb to care for the body of our Lord. They teach us to honor the dead; I will write more about this another day.

And they were mightily blessed for their faith and good works, as the angel appeared to them first and gave them the wonderful news that “Christ is risen!” Indeed He is risen.

My own patron saint is Joanna, one of these women, who twice teaches me to care for the dead, as she is reported to have used her connections as the wife of Herod’s steward to recover the head of John the Baptist so that it could be buried properly.

It was a great joy to attend Vespers tonight and hear the Paschal hymns again, in addition to the sweet and sad hymn pertaining to Good Friday beginning, “Joseph and Nicodemus took Thee down from the tree….” As these men also cared for Christ’s body after the crucifixion, they are commemorated today along with the myrrhbearers. Joseph of Arimathea bought 100 pounds of spices, enough for a king, to anoint the body of Jesus. He gave the tomb that he had bought for his own burial, and these men probably had to pay a price to the government officials as well, in order to obtain the body. All this I heard in the homily tonight, which focused on the fact that even if Joseph and Nicodemus were secret disciples before Christ’s death, they were nothing like that afterward.

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