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 】
【 東正教 李亮神父 講道 】
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？」
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2017.04.30 – Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women
The Mystery of Love
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 )