On the third Sunday of the Easter season (May 8 this year), our Church commemorates the first witnesses of Jesus’ Resurrection -- the women who came to His tomb with myrrh to anoint His body. The men who buried Jesus, St. Joseph of Arimathea and St. Nicodemus, are also honoured on this Sunday.
Jesus Christ was crucified on Friday. He was hastily anointed, wrapped in linen and buried by Sts. Joseph and Nicodemus that same day because the next day was the Sabbath, when it was unlawful to work. When the Sabbath was officially over, in the morning’s early hours, a small group of faithful women who wanted to anoint Jesus’ body properly, set off for the tomb with myrrh and expensive fragrant oils.
The group, according to the Gospel of Mark (16:1-8), included Mary Magdalene, another Mary (referred to as the mother of James), and Salome. They said “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” but found the heavy stone had already been rolled away. An angel nearby said to them: “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here! …Go, tell His disciples – and Peter – that He is going before you into Galilee...”
The Gospel of John (20:14) recounts that Mary Magdalene, crying at the tomb, saw the Resurrected Jesus, but did not recognize Him until He called her by name. From this incident, we are reminded that knowing and recognizing God is a spiritual experience and that the soul has primacy over the outer physical body.