即使耶穌死去,她們仍愛著他;即使耶穌看似失敗,她們仍愛著他。她們自始至終深愛耶穌,她們不曾否認耶穌,她們愛的是耶穌本身(what he is)。她們只想表達對耶穌的愛,並不期待什麼。她們冒著生命危險,為愛付諸行動。

 

 

【 主日讀經 馬可福音 15:43~47;16:1~8 】

 

有亞利馬太的約瑟前來,他是尊貴的議士,也是等候神國的。他放膽進去見彼拉多,求耶穌的身體;彼拉多詫異耶穌已經死了,便叫百夫長來,問他耶穌死了久不久。既從百夫長得知實情,就把耶穌的屍首賜給約瑟。

 

約瑟買了細麻布,把耶穌取下來,用細麻布裹好,安放在磐石中鑿出來的墳墓裡,又滾過一塊石頭來擋住墓門。抹大拉的馬利亞和約西的母親馬利亞都看見安放他的地方。

 

過了安息日,抹大拉的馬利亞和雅各的母親馬利亞並撒羅米,買了香膏要去膏耶穌的身體。七日的第一日清早,出太陽的時候,他們來到墳墓那裡,彼此說:誰給我們把石頭從墓門滾開呢?那石頭原來很大,他們擡頭一看,卻見石頭已經滾開了。

 

他們進了墳墓,看見一個少年人坐在右邊,穿著白袍,就甚驚恐。那少年人對他們說:不要驚恐!你們尋找那釘十字架的拿撒勒人耶穌,他已經復活了,不在這裡。請看安放他的地方。你們可以去告訴他的門徒和彼得,說:他在你們以先往加利利去。在那裡你們要見他,正如他從前所告訴你們的。他們就出來,從墳墓那裡逃跑,又發抖又驚奇,什麼也不告訴人,因為他們害怕。

 

 

【 東正教 李亮神父 講道 】

 

今天的節慶是紀念那些深愛耶穌、至死不渝的人們,這也表達了十分深奧的神學。

 

首先,是兩位猶太議會的成員,尼哥底母和約瑟。約瑟擁有崇高的社會地位,聖經記載他是一位「尊貴」的人,廣受敬重。約瑟也是猶太議會的成員之一,就是那個議會將耶穌基督定了罪。然而,路加福音記載,約瑟並不同意猶太議會對於耶穌的定罪。聖經沒有詳載他反對的細節,因為新約聖經的主要目的不在於紀錄歷史。但是教會的聖傳(Holy Tradition),包括受難週的聖詩,卻詳細記載了約瑟所做的另一件感人事蹟:約瑟去找巡撫彼拉多,請求領走耶穌的死去的身體。

 

約瑟這麼做,是十分危險的,因為將耶穌釘在十字架上的,就是彼拉多。約瑟可能因此被逮捕,因為猶太人想讓耶穌的身體在十字架上腐爛,或者是丟到荒郊野外,任憑野獸啃食。而約瑟所做的,十分深刻,他將耶穌埋葬在自己的墓穴。約瑟身為猶太人,依循傳統,會先為自己備好未來的墓穴。此刻,他將自己全新的墓穴,獻給了耶穌基督。

 

聖詩中唱道:「約瑟走向彼拉多,請求耶穌基督的身體。約瑟說:『請容許我,將這陌生之人的身體領去吧!祂來到世上,世上卻沒有人認識祂。祂死之時,沒有一位朋友來弔念祂。』我們原本與神陌生,卻因為這位陌生之人,成為神的朋友。」

 

另外一位猶太議會的成員尼哥底母,也與約瑟同去,從十字架上,取下耶穌的身體,如同教堂中的聖像畫所描繪的。畫有這幅聖像畫的 Epitaphios (如下圖),在這40天中,會一直安放在祭壇上。在每一次的聖餐禮中,畫有這幅聖像畫的 Epitaphios,也都安放在祭壇上。

 

 

他們兩人買了昂貴的香膏,膏抹了耶穌,並將耶穌埋葬了。他們在週五晚上埋葬了耶穌,與他們同在的,還有聖母馬利亞、以及其他跟隨耶穌的婦人們。之後他們必須盡快回家,因為猶太人的逾越節,就要開始了。而依照逾越節的傳統,他們既不可以靠近墓地、也不可以安葬亡者。

 

週六一過,週日凌晨,聖母和其他婦人們,在天未亮的時候,她們就奔向耶穌的墓地。她們帶來昂貴的香膏,滿懷愛意和奉獻之情,來到耶穌的墓穴。她們為何而來?她們有所期待嗎?

 

重要的是,她們並不期待神蹟,她們也不期待「復活」。從這裡,我們看見完美的愛。她們的導師,她們的信仰領袖,已經死去,一切都結束了。她們可以像其他猶太人那樣,質問耶穌:「如果祢真的是神的兒子,就從十字架上下來吧!但是祢卻無法從十字架上下來,所以祢其實是個騙子啊!我們竟然跟隨了一個騙子!」她們也可以說:「我們跟隨了一個騙子,整整浪費了我們三年的時間啊!這三年我們浪費了多少錢啊!我們原本可以去工作、可以賺很多錢的啊!」

 

但是她們並沒有這麼說,她們深愛耶穌,她們沒有拒絕耶穌。最重要的是,她們愛的是耶穌本身(what he is)。此刻,她們只是表達對耶穌的愛,並不期待什麼。當她們知道一切都結束了,即使自己並不富有,卻買了昂貴的香膏來紀念耶穌。有些人會說:「這真是浪費錢啊!兩三天之後屍體就臭了,買香膏幹嘛呢?」

 

什麼是愛呢?與神學無關,而是真愛,是愛與奉獻,是戰勝死亡的愛。對這群婦人來說,從某個角度來看,耶穌已死;但從另一個角度來看,耶穌仍然活著,活在她們心中。這些婦人所做的,並非浪費金錢。她們冒著生命危險,前往耶穌的墓穴,在那兒,有羅馬士兵看守著,這些士兵甚至可能性侵她們。耶穌死去時,聲名敗壞,被認為是叛亂者。而羅馬士兵會如何對待叛亂者的親人呢?士兵們很可能懷疑這群婦人也是叛亂者,加以盤查拷問,誰又能保護她們呢?

 

然而,這群婦人並不擔心自己的性命安危,她們連想都沒有想過。她們只擔心一件事:「墓穴被大石頭封住了,誰來幫我們移開這大石頭呢?我們如此瘦弱。」這是真正的愛,真正的奉獻。

 

我不知道,你、我、在座的每一個人,與這群婦人相比,對耶穌基督的愛,又如何呢?我們為耶穌,做了什麼呢?每個人都需要自問,自己為耶穌,做了什麼呢?為耶穌基督、為祂的身體、也就是為教會,做了什麼呢?今天,請回答自己這個問題。來到耶穌墓穴的婦人們,她們一無所求,她們冒著危險,她們付出所有。捫心自問,我們又為教會做了什麼呢?

 

你不能回答說:「我有給錢啊!」因為我們教會不收奉獻。在座每一位,在領受聖餐之前,請問問自己,自己為耶穌奉獻了什麼?這群聖潔的婦人,甘願為耶穌冒險,即使性命和財產都受威脅,她們仍然愛耶穌。其他人卻拋棄了耶穌,因為羅馬士兵看守墓穴,讓人感到害怕。

 

我想跟各位談談有關研讀聖經的事,因為我知道大部份的信徒並不翻閱聖經。如果你不是一個認真的基督徒,你等於是欺騙了耶穌基督。根據統計,每十分鐘,就有一個基督徒,因信仰而被殺害。如果各位不是在台灣,而是在其他國家,就會知道成為基督徒,是會有生命危險的。

 

因為這群婦人的愛,耶穌賜予她們極大的驚喜。當她們抵達墓穴,卻發現士兵不見了。她們原本最擔憂的難題—擋住墓穴的大石頭,已經被移開了,而閃耀著榮光的天使,就坐在其上。婦人們感到畏懼,這畏懼不是擔心自己生命的安危,而是關於對神的奧秘感到敬畏。

 

天使對她們說:「你們在找什麼呢?在找那位被釘十字架的耶穌嗎?祂不在這裡,祂已經復活了!」婦人們成為首先領受復活喜訊的人,因為她們的愛,而不是因為她們感到好奇,也不是因為任何其他原因。

 

再次,我強調,復活就是愛的奧秘,這也是為何法利賽人並沒有看見復活的耶穌。天使又說:「祂要你們去對使徒說,祂已經復活了,特別是對彼得說。」為何是對彼得呢?並不是因為彼得比較重要,而是因為耶穌知道彼得三次不認祂。彼得,和猶大不同,他仍然和其他使徒們同在,即使顏面盡失。因此,天使所傳的訊息是為了安慰彼得,讓彼得知道耶穌仍想念他,並沒有拋棄他。使徒們將會在加利利見到復活的耶穌,而不是耶穌撒冷,因為耶路撒冷的人們如此惡毒,將耶穌釘上了十字架。外邦人的加利利地,也代表著我們,因為我們也是「外邦人」(非猶太人),耶穌將在此顯現。

 

婦人們離開了,充滿驚喜,也充滿敬畏。驚喜,因為她們甚至不敢相信耶穌真的復活了,耶穌的身體確實不在墓穴中。她們順服天使的訊息,奔向使徒所在之處,滿懷對神的敬畏,也滿懷神的恩典。

 

在其他的福音中也記載,當這群婦人動身前往使徒的居所時,耶穌親自向她們顯現,但她們沒有認出耶穌。四福音書關於這段情節的記載,有些微不同,因為探望耶穌墓穴的婦女們有好幾位,但這些記載都是正確的。其中,關於抹大拉的馬利亞,我們以後再談。

 

最後,我們需要談談,如何感受、如何看見耶穌基督。唯一的方式,就是愛。我們在教會的群體中,看見耶穌,而不是以孤立的個人,遇見耶穌。看,這群婦人們一同前往墓穴,使徒們也是一同前往墓穴。因此,耶穌向這群愛祂的「群體」顯現了,這群體始終愛著耶穌,對耶穌別無所求。即使耶穌死去,她們仍愛著他;即使耶穌看似失敗了,她們仍愛著他。她們愛耶穌,冒著生命危險,付諸行動。

 

我再次強調,當我們領受聖餐,我們是領受了完完全全的耶穌本身,將祂領受到我們裡面。而我們為耶穌做了什麼呢?我們在這教會領受聖餐,但我們為這教會做了什麼呢?直到我過世,我都會自問,我是否盡了職責?在各位領受聖餐之前,我再次要求各位認真思索,你們為耶穌基督,為祂的身體—這間教會,做了什麼呢?你有為祂冒著生命危險嗎?沒有。你有像這群婦人一樣,獻上昂貴的香膏嗎?沒有。這群婦人,到墓穴尋找耶穌;尼哥底母和約瑟,後來甚至被關入監牢裡。什麼是真愛呢?我們真的愛耶穌嗎?請將自己與這群聖潔的愛者們比較吧!

 

願至聖聖三一保守我們每一個人。

 

阿門。

 

 

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2017.04.30 – Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women
The Mystery of Love

 

Luke 24:1-12

On the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel; and as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of man must be delivered in to the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told this to the apostles; but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.

But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home wondering at what had happened.

 

Today we celebrate these people who loved Jesus Christ, even though he was dead. And this shows again the very deep theology of the Resurrection. Previously, there were two members of the Jewish council, Nicodemus and Joseph, Joseph was a very well-known person and this is why the Gospel says noble, because he was a member of the council that condemned Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Luke says that Joseph did not agree with the condemnation of Jesus, as the other Jews wanted. We don’t have details, of course, because the Gospels are not books about history, but we have some details from the tradition, which is why we have these songs that we sang in the Holy Week.

You know, it was very dangerous for someone to go to Pilate, the person who had ordered the crucifixion of Jesus, to ask for his body. This person could be arrested since the Jews wanted Jesus’ body from the cross to throw away or let the dogs or other animals eat him. And it is also very deep what Joseph did with his tomb. As a good Jew, he had already prepared his own tomb, one that nobody had been in it before, and he donated this for Jesus Christ. There is such a song with such a deep theological meaning; it says, “When Joseph asked Pilate, he said ‘Give me this stranger, who is a stranger to everyone, who has no friends on this earth.” This stranger – Jesus – who took us, who were strangers and far from God, to be friends of God.

And the other member of the council, Nicodemus also went with Joseph to take down the body of Christ from the Cross. You can see the picture there on the wall, and the same epitaph is on this altar table for forty days, and in every Liturgy there is a cloth with this picture shown Nicodemus and Joseph after Christ is taken down from the Cross. So they bought very expensive perfumes and buried them. This happened on Friday at the beginning of night, and they were not alone since the holy women were also there and they all buried Him. And then they needed to go home quickly since it was the great Jewish celebration of the Passover, so the following day they could not do anything like going to the grave. Then very early Sunday morning, very early, maybe three or four o’clock while it was still dark outside, the Holy Mother and the other women were hurrying to the grave of Jesus Christ. They had bought very expensive perfumes and they were running with a deep love and devotion.

Why were they doing this? They were not expecting anything from it. It is very important to understand that they had no idea of the Resurrection and they were not expecting anything like that. We see here the perfect love. Because their teacher, their spiritual leader, had just died and everything was over, right? They should say, like the other Jews, “Come down from the Cross! You can’t come down from the Cross so you must have been a liar. We have followed a liar.” And not only this; they should say, “We have wasted our life following him for three years. And we have wasted our money since we could have been doing other work for these three years.”

But they did not say anything like this. They loved Him. They loved Jesus. They did not abandon what he had told then; they remembered everything. But especially, they loved him for what he was. And here now, we see their love when they could expect nothing, when they believed that everything was over. They were not rich; they were poor people, and yet they spent their own money to buy very, very expensive perfumes. Somebody could say that was a waste of money. Why should they do this? After all, after one or two days, the body will begin to decay and smell very bad, so it would be a waste of money. A practical person today would say not to waste the money for these things, especially since Jesus was already dead and He must have been a liar; just go home.

I ask you, what is the real love? It is not theology – it is love; it is love and devotion. It is the love that overcomes death, because for them Jesus – from one point of view – is dead, but from the other point of view – He is alive in their hearts.

And it is not only that these poor women were wasting their money; they were putting their lives in danger. Before dawn they were going to the grave where there were Roman soldiers who could have raped them. Jesus did not die as a good person; he died as a revolutionary, a criminal, with the worst death. The soldiers could have said, “You were conspiring with him in that political party. Come here.” Who would have protected the women? And yet the women did not care about this. They never thought about their own lives in the face of this very serious danger.

They were worried about only one thing. The tomb was closed with a big stone and they were worried about who could move the stone for them since they were women and not strong enough. You can see the real love and the real devotion. I don’t know how each one of us, you and me, can compare our love for Jesus Christ with theirs. What have we done for Jesus Christ? Each one of us should ask him or herself, “What have I done for Jesus Christ?” And I say for Jesus Christ, for His body – His Church.

And answer this for yourself today because these poor women, when they could have expected nothing, they risked their lives and gave up what they owned. Ask yourselves, “What have you done for this Church?” You cannot say that you gave up material things since we do not take money here. Ask yourselves, any one of you, before the Holy Communion, ask yourselves, what have you offered to Jesus Christ?

These holy women who loved Him went to His tomb at the risk of their lives and economic ruin because they loved Jesus. And the others had abandoned Jesus. The Roman soldiers were at the tom, scaring everyone away. And yet here there are women who hate the priest who gives them the Holy Communion and forgives them their sins. Let God judge them! Let the holy women of the Gospel today judge them in front of the holy body of Jesus Christ.

You know the Gospel. And I will say to you that everyone must read at least one page of the Gospel, because I understand that most of you don’t read anything. It is not just Mickey Mouse. You must do this if you are serious Christians, and if not, you are cheating Jesus Christ. If you are serious Christians, it is OK, but if you are not, they you are just fooling with God. And we are not talking nonsense about what these women did here or there or other times; we are not talking about that.

There are statistics today that say that every ten minutes one Christian is killed for his faith. If you were not in Taiwan, which is a very safe country, but somewhere else like the Middle East or Africa, you could go to your church and there would be the danger of a terrorist bomb that could kill you.

So because the love of Jesus gave these women a huge surprise. When they got to the tomb they saw no soldiers. And still they did not think of this because their big problem, the stone had already been moved. And the angel, full of light was sitting there. The only fear they felt was not a fear for their lives, but the fear that arises when facing the mystery of God. This was why they were shocked.

So the angel said to them, “Who are you looking for? Jesus who was crucified?” because the women knew Jesus had been crucified and they remembered His dead body. “He is not here. He has risen.” It is very important that these were the first people to receive the message of the Resurrection because of their love, not because of curiosity, not because of any other reason. And once more I say to you: the Resurrection is the mystery of love. This is why the Pharisees and others did not see the resurrected Christ.

So, from this point of view, the angel said to the women, “Go to tell his disciples.” And it says, “and to Peter.” Why does it say to Peter? Not because Peter was so important. It was because God know Peter had betrayed Him without any reason. And remember this: many people betray Jesus without any reason. But unlike Judas, Peter remained with the other disciples. He was very humiliated and he could not face them, but he followed them. So the message now comes to Peter that Jesus is thinking about you, He did not abandon you. You will see him in Galilee, not in Jerusalem, where the people were so bad that they crucified Him, but in Galilee – a city of the Gentiles. Just as we were also like Gentiles in this place. So it there that Jesus will appear.

Then the women leave, very happy – but very scared. Happy because even in their happiness they do not dare to believe that Jesus is actually alive. But from the other point of view, they did not see the dead body of Jesus there. So they went to obey the angel, running out full of the grace of God – and the fear of God. Of course, the Gospel does not have everything. We can see later that Jesus appears to the women on their way to tell the apostles. But they did not recognize them.

If we look at the Gospels, we can see that it was not just a single visit of these women. This is why the Gospels give different times: some say it was when the sun had started to rise and another says it was while it was still dark. All are correct because it was not just these women, and after a few hours some others went, so there were different visits of these women.

We will talk about Mary Magdalene more at a later time, but now we will talk about how to see and how feel about Jesus Christ. As I say, there is only one way, and that is through love, only. And this we see here in the Church, which is not just individuals just as the women went together and then they went to the group of the apostles. So Jesus appeared to this community who loved him, and who continued to love him even when they could have expected nothing from him in return. They loved somebody who had died and who had failed. They loved somebody, as I say again, and they put their lives in danger. They did something that showed how much they loved him.

And once more, I want to remind you before we receive the Holy Communion because when we receive the communion we have Jesus himself totally inside us. Ask ourselves: What have we done for Jesus Christ, for this church where you receive the Holy Communion? When it comes for me to die, I will ask myself what I have done, if I have done my little bit. And I will ask once more, before you receive the Holy Communion, for each one of you to put in your mind what you have done for Jesus and for His Church here, what have you done? Did you put your lives in danger for him? No. Did you offer so much money, as these women did for such expensive perfumes? Of course not. Did you help? You can judge yourselves.

These myrrh-bearing women went to the grave, and Joseph went to prison. Later they arrested him and put him in prison. The women went at night, putting themselves at risk of being raped and killed. And yet, other women abandon the church here. Once more, I say, let Jesus judge them, and let these holy women and those who follow the holy women judge people who think that this holy church of God is a club where they can show off. We should remember and compare ourselves with these women.

May the Holy Trinity protect us. And now we will do the real mystery of Jesus.

 

( Transcript Recorder: Professor Timothy Baker )