May 4 – Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women

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This second Sunday after Pascha (Easter) is a special remembrance of the Myrrh-bearing Women in the Byzantine Rite calendar, recalling Mary, Mary Cleophas, Mary Magdalene and the others who were first at the tomb of Jesus, after His burial, that first Easter morning, to dress and sanctify Him in the manner prescribed in the Old Testament.

The day commemorates when the women disciples of our Lord came to the tomb to anoint His body with myrrh-oils but found the tomb empty. As the women wondered what this meant, angels appeared proclaiming that Christ had risen from the dead.

They ministered unto Him out of their own possessions, even until His crucifixion and entombment; and afterwards, neither losing faith in Him after His death, nor fearing the wrath of the Jewish rulers, they came to His sepulcher, bearing the myrrh-oils they had prepared to anoint His body. It is because of the myrrh-oils that these God-loving women brought to the tomb of Jesus that they are called Myrrh-bearers.

Of those whose names are known are the following: first of all, the most holy Virgin Mary, who in Matthew 27:56 and Mark 15:40 is called “the mother of James and Joses” (these are relatives, cousins); Mary Magdalene (celebrated July 22); Mary, the wife of Clophas; Joanna, wife of Chouza, a steward of Herod Antipas; Salome, the mother of the sons of Zebedee (James and John); Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus; and Susanna. As for the names of the rest of them, the evangelists have kept silence (Matthew 217:55-56; 28:1-10. Mark 15:40-41.

This Sunday, and always, let us follow their holy example and seek our Lord where He is laid to rest, where He instructs us to seek and find Him. And to do His will, not ours.

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