Russian Orthodox Church
of St Nicholas
Dallas, Texas
St Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas Home Page St Nicholas the Wonderworker Go to the bottom of the page
Phone:972 529-2754
nicholas@orthodox.net

Redeeming the Time Vol. 02.02 Sunday of the Holy Myrhh-bearers Apri1 20/ May 3 1998


Redeeming the Time

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church Dallas TX

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Apri1 20 / May 3 1998

Sunday of the Holy Myrrh-bearers

The Third Sunday of Pascha

Vol. 02.02

News and Announcements *

Remember: *

All this month: *

Fasting is relaxed a little bit this month. *

Make plans for Ascension *

Calling all choir members *

Sick *

Goodbye for a little while *

All church Sobor *

Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia *

Questions about the Sunday of the Holy Myrrh-bearers *

More! Questions about the Holy Myrrh- bearers *

WHAT HAS THE FEAST OF PASCHA LEFT IN OUR SOULS? *

Gleanings from the Fathers *

Grace operates as well through unworthy priests *

Answers to Questions about the Sunday of the Holy Myrrh-bearers *

Answer 1 *

Answer 2 *

Answer 5 *

Answer 6 *

Answer 7 *

Answer 10 *

Answers to More! Questions about the Holy Myrrh- bearers *

ANSWER 1 *

ANSWER 2 *

ANSWER 3 *

ANSWER 4 *

ANSWER 5 *

ANSWER 6 *

ANSWER 7 *

ANSWER 8 *

ANSWER 9 *

ANSWER 10 *

News and Announcements

Remember:

All this month:

We do not say "O Heavenly King" but substitute "Christ is risen..." 3 times, until the Apodosis of Pascha (May 14/27).

After this, until Pentecost, we omit "Christ is risen...". Wherever you see "O Heavenly King..." just skip over to the next prayer.

Fasting is relaxed a little bit this month.

On Wednesday and Friday we may always have wine and Olive Oil. On a few of the days, we can also have fish.

Make plans for Ascension

Ascension Thursday is May 28th (according to the civil calendar). We will have Vigil the evening before and Divine Liturgy Thursday morning at 6 AM. YOU CAN DO IT! Please make plans to attend these services.

Calling all choir members

Matushka Marina and children will be travelling from June 17 through July 6th. This includes the last two weekends in June and the first Weekend in July. If you sing in the choir, it would be very much appreciated if you planned to be present at the Vigil and Divine Liturgy on those days.

Sick

Please pray for the sick every day. Your prayer can be very simple: "Lord have mercy upon Thy (suffering) servant…"

    • Archbishop Anthony of San Francisco
    • Vladyka Anthony may not be able to participate in the All church Sobor because of his health.
    • Bishop Daniel
    • Vladyka Daniel recently had heart bypass surgery.
    • Protopresbyter Father Elias Wen
    • Father Elias (101 years young) is in the hospital with a high fever.
    • Priest Martin
    • Serious back pain. Fr Martin will be having neck surgery after Pascha.
    • Mother Seraphima - God's little sufferer
    • Tim Clader
    • serious ankle injury
    • David Miller
    • David will be having back surgery soon.
    • Alexandra
    • breast cancer
    • Emily
    • severe headaches

Goodbye for a little while

Nicholas Boushel will be travelling back to Copenhagen in the middle of the week, and will be returning sometime in the summer. Please remember to pray for him.

All church Sobor

Every two years, our church gathers together all her bishops for an all church Sobor. These meetings are always very important, and are especially so now because of the rapidly changing situation in Russia and World Orthodoxy in general. The meeting will span the first two full weeks in May. We are obligated to pray for our bishops, especially at this time. Please use the list below.

Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia

Metropolitan Vitaly

New York and Eastern America

Archbishop Alypy

Chicago, Detroit & Midwest America

Archbishop Anthony

San Francisco

Archbishop Laurus

Syracuse and Holy Trinity

Archbishop Mark

Germany and Great Britain

Archbishop Hilarion

Australia and New Zealand

Archbishop Lazarus

Tambov & Odessa

Archbishop Seraphim

Brussels and Western Europe

Bishop Daniel

Erie, PA

Bishop Benjamin

Black Sea and Kuban

Bishop Evtikhy

Ishim and Siberia

Bishop Kyrill

Seattle

Bishop Michael

Toronto

Bishop Varnava

Cannes, France

Bishop Ambrose

Bishop Mitrophan

Boston

Bishop Agafangel

Odessa

Bishop Gabriel

Manhattan

Questions about the Sunday of the Holy Myrrh-bearers

QUESTION 1

The Gospel reading for the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing women includes the name of one man. There was another man also involved who was mentioned in another place. Describe who they were and what they did. Don't just describe cold historical facts - what do their actions mean?

QUESTION 2

When is the Sunday of the myrrh-bearers? Why?

QUESTION 3

The church names how many myrrh bearers? List them.

QUESTION 4

Where was Jesus buried? Is there any significant meaning to this place?

QUESTION 5

A great stone was rolled across the entrance to the sepulchre, sealing it. Can we understand anything from this?

QUESTION 6

The myrrh the women carried symbolizes something we must also "carry" to Christ. What?

QUESTION 7

Where was the angel in the tomb? Any significance to this?

QUESTION 8

What were the angel's instructions? Were they understood? Were they followed?

QUESTION 9

The angel singled out a single person to tell of the resurrection, apart from the rest of the disciples as a group. Whom? Why?

QUESTION 10

St Mark reports of the honorable counselor Joseph:

"And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre." (Mark 15:46)

How should we think of this "fine linen", and does it instruct us in any way?

More! Questions about the Holy Myrrh- bearers

QUESTION 1Who is commemorated the 3rd Sunday of Pascha? Name ALL the names.

QUESTION 2Who was the myrrh bearer who was the mother of two of the apostles?

QUESTION 3One of the myrrh bearers was married to one of the seventy apostles, who saw the risen Lord before the eleven. Who was she, and who was her husband?

QUESTION 4

Which 2 myrrh bearers were sisters?

QUESTION 5

One myrrh bearer was demon possessed and cured by Christ. Who? How many devils? What Pascha tradition is she responsible for?

QUESTION 6

What was the contribution to the burial of Christ of the men commemorated today?

QUESTION 7

Why were the myrrh-bearing women going to the tomb early Sunday morning? According to the teaching of the fathers and services, what was the nature of their thoughts? Why did they not do this earlier?

QUESTION 8

The Gospels mention a "Mary the mother of Joses", and "Mary the mother of James the less". Who was this Mary?

QUESTION 9

What were the women concerned about at that very early hour as they went to the tomb to anoint a dead body? What obstacle was curiously missing from their worried thoughts? What happened? Describe the instructions they were given, and in particular, why a particular apostle was singled out by name.

QUESTION 10

Which myrrh hearer was affiliated in some way with Herod?

WHAT HAS THE FEAST OF PASCHA LEFT IN OUR SOULS?

by St. John Of Kronstadt

And so, the Feast of Feasts has passed by us: and the Royal Gates in the Lord's temples are shut; and the service is no longer as triumphant as it was during Bright Week. What, then, brethren, has this feast left in our souls? Christian holidays, you see, do not pass before us, one after another, just to leave our souls idle, but in order to discharge us from the cares and affairs of life's concerns; to put it another way: the Lord provides us with holidays in order that we might temporarily put aside thinking about, concerning ourselves with, rejoicing at, grieving over, that which is worldly, earthly, quick to pass; but, instead, that we might meditate upon, concern ourselves with, rejoice at, that which is heavenly and eternal. It was precisely for this reason, as well, that the holiday just past was given us.

The Lord made us worthy of beholding the all-radiant feast of Christ's Resurrection in order that we might descry in it the first-fruits of the universal resurrection of all mankind in that last day of the world: Christ rose from the dead, being the first-fruits of those who had died (Cor. 15, 20), says the Word of God. It was for us, you see, that the Lord suffered, died, was buried, and arose: and His death, burial and resurrection is, as it were, our own death, burial and resurrection. It is for this reason that we sang during Matins of Bright Week: yesterday was I interred with Thee, O Christ; conjointly with Thee do I rise today (Pascha. Can. Ode 3, Trop. 2). Yes, we all of us, invariably, shall rise up; and we all look for, i.e., await, the resurrection of the dead. This is as certain as it is certain that there will be a day tomorrow. Has this ever entered your heads; have you given any thought to this during the holiday? Yet it was necessary to think upon this, without fail. All the great holidays of the Church, -- and the Feast of Pascha, in particular, -- remind us of our redemption, through Jesus Christ, from the age to come.

But such a one as believes in his resurrection from the dead, the same prepares here for the future life; attempts to live in accordance with the commandments of the Lord; honors the feasts of the Lord; and takes care not to offend against their sanctity through deeds of carnal impurity. And what was done among us, us Orthodox Christians, on this radiant Feast? It is shameful even to speak of it; but it is necessary to do so. Christians, to the great grief of Holy Mother the Church, turned the bright days of Pascha Week into dark days, days deserving of tears and lamentation. So very many celebrated not the feast of Christ's Resurrection, and our own resurrection from dead works, but a feast of demonic resurrection in their souls. The Great Fast was a defeat of, was death for, the devil; because he fled from many souls and died to them, as it were, after their sincere repentance and communion of the Holy Mysteries; but on the feast of Pascha he rose again in not a few souls. How did he arise? Through gluttony, drunkenness, outrage and other vices that drunkenness gives rise to, and to which many Christians gave themselves over. It is thus that Christians love Christ; it is thus that they celebrate the greatest holiday of the year! What benefit is there in such people calling themselves Christians? Many pagans live better lives than that and, without a doubt, are more worthy in God's eyes than are they. Those of other [non-Christian] faiths and those who are not Orthodox, who dwell in our city [Kronstadt] are astonished at such behavior, and on so great a holiday, and say: there are the Christians, for you; there are the Orthodox, for you! They celebrate like real pagans, and on such a holiday, yet! That is what those of other faiths and those who are not Orthodox say of us. But what does the Lord Himself say of our holidays; or, more precisely -- of our observance of them? My soul hateth your festivals, and I cannot bear the great day, saith the Lord, I am surfeited; I will no more pardon your sins (Esaias 1, 14).

Brethren! Whom have we begun to resemble? to what extent have we given ourselves over to forgetfulness? And the word of Scripture is being fulfilled in us in all its force: and man, being in honor, understandeth not; he is compared to senseless cattle and hath become like unto them (Ps. 48; 13, 21). Christ the Lord hath honored us with His name; He hath washed us with His blood; he hath made of us a chosen people, an holy nation ([I] Pet. 2, 9); while we insolently, madly, have despised God's mercy and dishonor ourselves by all means of dissolute acts. Do not flatter yourselves, brethren: neither thieves, nor murderers, nor fornicators, nor adulterers shall inherit the Kingdom of God (I Cor. 6; 9, 10-). Yes, if you do not cease from behaving thus, especially on holy days which, according to the Lord's commandment, should be consecrated and sanctified, then ye will not see the Kingdom of God.

Brethren! it is extremely necessary for us to behave more wisely, and to attend more closely to ourselves, during the feasts of the Lord. The Lord will call us strictly to account for our foolish revelry. It is not according to the flesh, as do those who worship idols; but, rather, according to the spirit, that we should celebrate our holidays; although even bodily celebration, if it occurs together with the spiritual, is permitted and is not hateful to the Lord; but, in that case, it must never exceed the bounds of moderation. God is spirit (John 4, 24; 2 Cor. 3, 17); our soul, redeemed by the Savior, is spirit: therefore should our holidays be more spiritual than fleshly. Such a one as celebrates only bodily, the same celebrates not unto God, but unto his idol -- the belly; or, which is all the same, to the demon of intemperance. God deliver everyone from such feasts! The abundance of material viands is permitted to Christians on holidays to the glory of God, in order that we might eat and drink in moderation, thanking God Who, together with spiritual joy, sends us bodily consolation, also, in the variety and sweetness of the viands and beverages, in order that our joy might not be wanting. But spiritual joy on a holiday must always surpass that of the body; while, with us -- it is the opposite. It is said, in God's commandment: remember the Sabbath day, and sanctify it (Ex. 20, 8); in our language of the New Testament, this means: remember the Day of Resurrection; do not forget its holiness and try to sanctify it yourself by your good deeds.

O Lord! grant that we might always remember Thy commandment concerning how we are to celebrate holy days; that we might keep it holy and be well-pleasing unto Thee with spiritual celebration. Amen.

Originally translated into English for "The Light Of Orthodoxy," Spring 1983, by G. Spruksts, from the Russian text appearing in _Solntse Pravdy: O zhizni i uchenii Gospoda Nashego Iisusa Khrista_ ["The Sun Of Righteousness: Concerning the Life and Teaching Of Our Lord Jesus Christ"] by Protopriest Ioann (Sergiev) [of Kronstadt], Chapter 5, pp. 297 - 301. Reprinted by permission. English-language translation copyright (c) 1983, 1998 by The St. Stefan Of Perm' Guild, The Russian Cultural Heritage Society, and the Translator. All rights reserved.

Gleanings from the Fathers

Grace operates as well through unworthy priests

"Grace operates as well through the unworthy, so that we are sanctified as well thought unworthy priests."

Blessed Theophylact of Bulgaria

"To God always belongs Grace, as does the Mystery, while to man, the performer of the Mystery, belongs only service. If he is good, then he is in concert with God and acts in harmony with Him; if bad, then God performs the visible form of the Mystery through him, but Himself endows it with invisible Grace…. Do not imagine that Divine Mysteries depend upon human morality and actions. They are holy because of the One to Whom they belong." Blessed Augustine

"God also acted through cattle before the Ark, when he wanted to save His people (1 Samuel 6). Could a priest’s life or virtues accomplish something like that? The Gifts of God are not such that they depend upon the virtue of the priest. Everything comes from Grace. It is for the priest to open his lips, and everything is performed by God, while the priest performs the visible actions…." Holy Hierarch John Chrysostom

(From Parish Life May, 1998 http://www.stjohndc.org/Fathers/9805d.htm )

Answers to Questions about the Sunday of the Holy Myrrh-bearers

Answer 1

The Gospel reading for the Sunday of the Holy Myrrh Bearers is taken from St Mark. After the God-man Jesus Christ had given up His spirit on the cross St Mark reports: "Joseph of Arimathaea, an honorable counselor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus." (Mark 15:43)

He continues, "Pilate gave the body of Jesus to Joseph, And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre." (Mark 15:46)

St John gives other details in his gospel which show that Nicodemus also helped Joseph: "And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. {40} Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury." (John 19:39-40)

St Luke gives us more insight into Joseph's character: "And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counselor; and he was a good man, and a just: {51} (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. {52} This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. {53} And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid." (Luke 23:50-53)

St Matthew, who is perhaps the most laconic of the Evangelists concerning the events after the death of Jesus and His resurrection, still found it important to mention the exploits of Joseph, adding to our knowledge of him by calling him "rich": "When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: {58} He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. {59} And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, {60} And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed." (Mat 27:57-60)

Both Joseph and Nicodemus were disciples of Christ, although secretly, because of fear. Nicodemus had met Christ by night, and discoursed with him about being "born again" (John 3:1-21). Although Nicodemus did not understand about the Lord then, the divine words eventually found their place in his heart. He later was emboldened to contradict the gainsaying of the Jewish leaders who were plotting to find some way to put Christ to death, as John reports: "Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) {51} Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?" (John 7:50-51). St Luke's testimony also shows that Joseph was against the treachery of the Jews, and did not endorse the slaying of the God-man.

These two men, who before had been timid, and, despite their learning, ignorant concerning the true nature and purpose of Jesus, nevertheless were converted, and emboldened by the gentle wind of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. When the time came, they showed themselves to be true lovers of Christ, as they risked their position in society and even their very own lives by their burial of Christ.

These two men were motivated by their consciences, which had been touched with divine truth. Indeed, "perfect love casteth out fear" (John 4:18). Such love also causes a person to act. May God grant that our love will also cast out fear, and we will not stand by idly as intellectual Christians, but will be motivated by our love to work in a way that is pleasing to God.

The clean linen that was used to wrap the immaculate body of Christ, and the nature of the tomb also have important meaning to be gleaned, but we will save these things for another question.

Answer 2

The Sunday of the myrrh-bearers is the Third Sunday of Pascha (including the Sunday of Pascha itself as the first Sunday). It follows the Sunday of St. Thomas. St Thomas Sunday immediately follows the Sunday of Pascha because historically, Thomas saw the risen Christ for the first time eight days after the resurrection, and therefore, the commemoration is made in this time frame. It is true that the myrrh-bearers saw the risen Christ before Thomas, on the very day of the resurrection, but perhaps Thomas' confession of the dual nature of Christ, "My Lord and my God," also had a bearing on the order in which these two events are remembered by the church.

Answer 3

Holy tradition names seven myrrh-bearers:

Mary Magdalene

Mary, the wife of CleophasJoanna, the wife of Herod's stewardSalome, the mother of the sons of Zebedee, James and JohnSusanna Mary, the sister of Lazarus Martha, the sister of LazarusAnswer 4Jesus was buried in a "new tomb", which had been hewn out of a rock, where no man had ever before been laid. The tomb was sealed with a great stone.

The tomb was new, so that this would be a proof of the resurrection. No one could credibly claim that some other person had risen from the dead.

In a mystical way, the tomb represents the human soul, where Christ must always abide. Blessed Theophylact admonishes us: "... Let us (also) take the body of Jesus, through Holy Communion, and place It in a tomb hewn out of a rock, that is, place It within a soul which always remembers God and does not forget Him. And let that soul be hewn from a rock, that is, from Christ Who is the Rock on which we are established" (Blessed Theophylact, Commentary on Mark 15:42-47). The translators of this commentary into English also give this note: "The Greek word for 'tomb' is derived from the word 'mneme', which means 'memory'"

Christian! Have you hewn out a place in your soul for the God-man to abide? Have you labored hard to prepare a place, hewing out the hard rock of the passions and unbelief? Do not make the mistake of just believing in Christ, and not laboring to building a place for Him in your soul. The Christian life is filled with labor. Labor while there is the day, that is, while you have breath on this earth, and always keep Christ in your remembrance, in your soul.

Answer 5

The stone that sealed the sepulchre helped to validate the resurrection. It was set at the door of a previously empty tomb, and guarded by an elite cohort of soldiers. The stone was not moved until after Christ had resurrected, revealing an empty tomb, and the soldiers shaking with fear.

The stone was a large object, immovable by one man. Venerable Bede describes its removal: "This rolling back of the stone mystically suggests the unblocking of the Mysteries of Christ, which were concealed by the covering of the Law: for the Law was written on Stone" (Quoted from "the Sunday Sermons of the Great fathers", Vol. 2, Pg. 215)

Answer 6

Myrrh was used to preserve things from corruption and dry them out. It also had a sweet odor, as did the other ointments and spices that the women brought to anoint the body of Jesus.

We must understand the myrrh in a mystical way if we are to truly understand the Christian way of the life. The women came to the tomb of Christ in order to bring Him myrrh, that is good works, and a life that is pleasing to God and free of corruption. We must not come to Christ empty-handed.

"The Myrrh-bearers, fulfilling the Old Testament Law, the law of Moses, bought perfumes and went to anoint His body, the body of Christ. And we, fulfilling the Law of the New Testament, the Law of Christ, must also acquire spiritual perfumes - His commandments: humility, meekness, peace-loving - and we must anoint His body with spiritual oil (that is, love and mercy). And His body is the Church of Christ."

Blessed Archbishop Andrei, "One thing Needful", pg. 67-8)

"You have heard, dearly beloved, that holy women who had followed the Lord came to the sepulcher with spices. They had loved Him when He was alive, and they showed Him their eager tenderheartedness even when He was dead. Their deed points to something that must be done in our holy Church. Thus as we hear of what they did, we must also think of our responsibility to imitate them. We, too, who believe in Him Who died, approach His sepulcher with spices if we are strengthened with the sweet smell of the virtues, and if we seek the Lord with a reputation for good works. And the women who came with spices saw angels, since those who advance toward God through their holy desires, accompanied by the sweet smell of the virtues, behold the citizens from on high."

St Gregory the Dialogist, "Forty Gospel Homilies", Homily 21, Pg. 158)

Answer 7

When the holy myrrh-bearers saw the angel, he was standing on the right side of the place where the body of Jesus had lain.

And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. (Mark 16:5)

It is not without purpose that the Evangelist mentions this detail

"right" side. St Gregory the Dialogist explains: "What is signified by the left side if not the present life? And what by the right side if not life everlasting? Therefore, because our Redeemer had now passed over beyond the infirmity of this present life, rightly does the angel who had come to announce His eternal life sit on the right side" (Quotation taken from the Sunday Sermons of the great Fathers, Vol. 2, it is also in Homily 21 of "Forty Gospel Homilies")

Answer 8

The angel gave exact instructions to the stupefied women:

"And he saith unto them, 'Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. {7} But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.'" (Mark 16:6-7)

The Evangelist goes on to tell us:

"And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid." (Mark 16:8)

The incredible reality of the resurrection was too much for the women to bear in such a short time. The Evangelists give many more examples which show that it was difficult even for those who loved the Lord to believe in His resurrection immediately. Blessed Theophylact explains: "Fear and amazement had taken hold of the women at the sight of the angel and at the awesome mystery of the Resurrection, and because of this 'neither said they anything to any man; for they were afraid'. Either they were afraid of the Jews, or they were so in awe of what they had seen that their minds were confounded. For this reason 'neither said they any thing to any man', and they even forgot the command the angel had given them." (Blessed Theophylact, Commentary on St Mark 16:1-8)

Answer 9

When the angel instructed the women, he specifically told them to announce the resurrection to Peter:

"But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you." (Mark 16:7)

Simon Peter was still shaken by the remembrance of his threefold denial of Christ. The church considers this to be an important thing to meditate upon, and addresses Peter's anguish thusly:

O Lord, after Thy resurrection on the third day / and the worship of the apostles, / Peter cried out to Thee: / "The women showed courage, but I was afraid. / The thief uttered theology, but I denied Thee. /

And dost Thou now call upon me to be Thine apostle still? /

Or wilt Thou show me again to be a fisher of the deep? //

Yet do Thou accept me, who repent, O God, and save me!"

(Second Sessional hymn after the reading of the Psalter, Sunday Matins, Tone 5)The angel singled him out in order to help him regain confidence that the Lord had accepted his repentance. The Lord Himself also singled out Peter when he restored him fully by means of His three questions after they had dined by the seashore. The Lord is always present and will always forgive, but we frail ones need to be reminded of this fact continually.

Blessed Theophylact explains: "He names Peter separately from the other disciples, as Peter was the foremost of the apostles. Also, because Peter had denied the Lord, the angel singles him out by name so that, when the women came and said that the Lord had commanded them to tell the disciples, Peter could not say, 'I denied the Lord, and therefore I am no longer His disciple. He has rejected me and abhors me' The angel added the words, 'and Peter' so that Peter would not be tempted to think that Jesus found him unworthy of mention, and unworthy to be ranked among the Lord's disciples, because of his denial." (Ibid.)

"After this, the angel told the women to proclaim these joyful tidings to the apostles 'and Peter'. Why 'and Peter'? Surely because Peter was feeling far more confused than the other disciples. His conscience must have been pricking him for his having three times denied the Lord, and for having finally fled from Him. The loyalty of the Apostle John, with whom Peter stood closest to the Lord, must have made Peter's conscience the more tender. John had not fled, but had remained beneath the Cross of his crucified Lord. In brief, Peter must have felt a traitor to his Lord, and must have been very uneasy in the apostles' company, especially that of the most holy Mother of God. Peter's name means "rock", but his faith was not rock-firm. His hesitancy and timidity made him scorned in his own eyes. He needed to be set back on his feet and to have his dignity as a man and as an apostle restored. The Lord, in His love for mankind, did this now, and this is why the angel made special mention of Peter by name."

(Blessed Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic, "Homilies", Page 235)

Answer 10

Clean, white linen has always been a symbol of purity. Just as the two formerly secret disciples of the Lord wrapped the immaculate body of Christ in fine linen, we must wrap ourselves in good works and moral purity that is pleasing to God.

"Joseph wrapped the Lord's body in linen, a clean linen cloth (Matthew 27:59), and laid it in the tomb. If we want the Lord to rise from the dead in us, we must keep Him in our clean, pure body - for clean linen clothes denote a pure body. A body made impure by the passions and vices is not a place in which the Lord will rise from the dead and live."

(Blessed Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic, "Homilies", Page 231)

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Good things to read about the Sunday of the Holy Myrrh-bearers:

  • Blessed Theophylact, Commentaries on the Gospels
  • Forty Gospel Homilies Homily 21 Pg. 157-163
  • Blessed bishop Nikolai Velimirovic, "Homilies"
  • Blessed Archbishop Andrei, "One Thing needful"

Answers to More! Questions about the Holy Myrrh- bearers

ANSWER 1

The Church commemorates seven myrrh bearing women on the third Sunday of Pascha: Mary Magdalene, Mary, another Mary, Martha, Salome, Joanna, Susanna, as well as Righteous Joseph of Arimathia and Nicodemus.

ANSWER 2

Salome was the daughter of St. Joseph the betrothed, the wife of Zebedee, and the mother of the holy apostles James and John.

ANSWER 3

Mary was the wife of Cleophas, as the Holy Evangelist John reports: "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene". (John 19:25). He was a brother of St. Joseph the betrothed, and, along with St. Luke, met Jesus on the day of the resurrection, while on the way to Emmaus. This incredible story is recounted in the 5th matins gospel: Luke 24:12-35, (number 113 according to the Russian Gospel numbering). After long enlightening discourse with Him, they finally recognized him after he broke bread and blessed it.

ANSWER 4

Mary and Martha, whose brother was Lazarus.

ANSWER 5

Mary Magdalene was formerly possessed by seven devils (demons):

"... And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils ..." (Luke 8:2)

St. Mary Magdalene showed a red egg to a Roman Emperor as proof of the power of Christ, and to this day, it is traditional to have red eggs at Pascha.

ANSWER 6

The Righteous Joseph obtained the body of Jesus, and along with Nicodemus, anointed Him as best they could and buried him in a tomb that Joseph had intended for himself.

"When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre. (Matthew 27:57-61)

"And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.

There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand." (John 19:38-42)

ANSWER 7

The women wanted to anoint the body of Jesus, since they did not have enough time before the Passover began. They were going to the grave to anoint a dead man. They as yet did not understand that He would rise from the dead.

ANSWER 8

According to the witness of the majority of the Fathers, "Mary the mother of James" was none other than the Theotokos. Blessed Theofylact, in his commentary on St. Luke chapter 24 states this quite plainly: "Mary the mother of James is the Theotokos. They gave her this name as the apparent mother of James the son of Joseph, whom also they called James the Younger, that is, the brother of the Lord. For there was also James the Elder, one of the twelve, the son of Zebedee" (Blessed Theofylact, Commentary on St. Luke, Pg. 317). Holy tradition and the gospels place the Theotokos at the cross of Christ, as St. John states:

"Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene." (John 19:25)

The Evangelist Mark mentions the mother of God by this other, more cryptic name when he describes those who were near the cross:

"There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; (Who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered unto him;) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem." (Mark 15:40-41)

The Holy church often refers to the Theotokos quite cryptically, from the old testament prophecies into the New Testament evangelical writings.

As an aside, we take note that Blessed Theofylact wrote his commentary, a compendium of all of the thought of the fathers from Pentecost onwards, in the 11th century. This was well before any impious innovators would suggest that the mother of God, the Theotokos, the ever virgin Mary, had children other than Jesus. The knowledge that the Holy Theotokos was and is a virgin was so fixed in the mind of the church that one could be so bold as to say that one cannot be Orthodox and believe otherwise. The innovations of the Protestants, in reaction against the corruption of the schismatic and later heretical Latins, would not come for many more years. They have much explaining to do if they are to prove that the Theotokos is not ever virgin, when so many prophesies, the testament of the Fathers, and the mind of the church stand as a united witness against their arrogant folly.

ANSWER 9

The women were mostly concerned about the great stone in front of the tomb, and seemed to not even be

considering that the tomb was guarded by an elite contingent of soldiers!

"And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?" (Mark 16:3)

They saw the stone rolled away from the tomb, and were met by an angel when they entered it. it:

"And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted." (Mark 16:4-5)

The angel told them to tell the apostles, but especially singled out Peter:

"And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you." (Mark 16:6-7)

It had only been a few days since Peter had denied Christ three times. He was in a bewildered state, with his conscience pricking him terribly, and needed to be encouraged. A sessional hymn sung in matins expresses what surely must have been Peter's feelings:

"After Thy Resurrection on the third day / and the act of worship of the Apostles, / Peter called out unto Thee: / "The women ventured while I was afraid; / the thief confessed God while I denied Him. / Wilt Thou continue to call me a disciple? / Wilt Thou not make me again a fisher of the deep? // Rather accept me repenting, O God, and save me." " (Sessional Hymn after the second reading from the Psalter, Sunday matins, fifth tone)

Blessed Bishop Nicolai Velomirovic has a wonderful commentary on this subject (Sermons, page 235)

ANSWER 10

Joanna was the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward.

"And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out whom went seven devils, And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance". (Luke 8:2-3)

"Redeeming the Time" is an almost weekly Journal of St Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas Texas. All issues may be found at: http://www.orthodox.net/redeeming

All unsigned or unattributed portions Copyright 1998 Fr Seraphim Holland

Address: 2102 Summit, McKinney TX 75071

Phone: 972 529-2754

Email: seraphim@orthodox.net

Web: http://www.orthodox.net

This journal is at http://www.orthodox.net/redeeming/redeeming.02.02.html

All rights reserved.

Distribute this text if you wish, but only if attribution and all contact information are included. I would appreciate being contacted if any large scale use of this text is desired. Many texts like this are on our web page.


Go to the top of the page
St Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas Home Page Icon of St Nicholas Go to the top of the page

Russian Orthodox Church
of St Nicholas
Dallas, Texas
Phone: 972 529-2754
Priest Seraphim Holland

nicholas@orthodox.net
Web Editor:
Fr. Seraphim Holland
Email:
seraphim@orthodox.net
Phone:
972/529-2754
Snail Mail:
2102 Summit, McKinney TX 75071, USA

All rights reserved. Please use this Orthodox Christian material in any way that is edifying to your soul, and copy it for personal use if you so desire. We ask that you contact St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church if you wish to distribute it in any way.