Set Free from the Fear of Death to Serve and Love

Homily for the Sunday of the Myrrh-Bearing Women, Pious Joseph of Arimathaea, and Righteous Nicodemus in the Orthodox Church
 
Christ is Risen!
 
Today we commemorate those who, in moments of profound crisis, did not think only of themselves, but instead cared for the dead body of their Lord as a sign of their love for Him.
 
With broken hearts and in terrible shock and grief, the Theotokos, Mary Magdalen, two other Mary’s, Johanna, Salome, Martha, Susanna, and others whose names we do not know, went early in the morning to the tomb of Christ in order to anoint Him. They had seen Him die a terrible death and expected to find His body lying in the grave. By doing what they could to show one last act of love to the Saviour, the myrrh-bearing women received the tremendous blessing of being the first to hear from the angel the good news of the resurrection.
 

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THE RESURRECTION – EXCLUSIVE TO CHRISTIANITY

“I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…”
Isaiah 49:15-16
“It is not possible to represent and to think of the cross without love. Where the cross is, there is love. In church you see crosses everywhere and on everything, in order that everything should remind you that you are in the temple of the God of love, the temple of love crucified for us.”
St. John of Kronstadt


Never and nowhere, in any false religion or human philosophy, has anyone ever given any thought – whether seriously or in jest – that it could ever be possible to vanquish the most undesirable intruder in man’s life and our worst enemy – death – which is undoubtedly the supreme form of anguish in the present lifetime.

Christ’s Resurrection, which had abolished Death, has the common resurrection of all the dead as its immediate outcome. This is a truth that is genuinely Christian. It was not coined by the Disciples of Christ – those simple fishermen who obviously were not predisposed for philosophies and theories. Victory over death is not a human invention; it is the work and the revelation of the Holy, Glorious, Triune God for the sake of fallen mankind.

Never has anyone in antiquity – from the wisest, the most intellectual, scientific, fanciful, romantic, to the most naive, lying, story-telling individual – ever considered that it would be possible to defeat death. It has never been mentioned – not even in fairy tales. It didn’t even exist as nostalgia, and not because people would not have desired it – quite the opposite. Quite simply, they regarded it as something so elusive, that they never dared to desire it or to even think of it. And we all know how in life we usually desire those things that we have some – even if only the slightest – possibility of attaining, or have seen others attain them…

Christianity is not a mere teaching; it primarily involves tangible and secured facts, from within which automatically springs forth the truth, without words – at least of its core teaching regarding God, mankind, the world, etc.. In the present instance, the Resurrection of Christ will have as its consequence the resurrection of the dead. Since Christ had foretold that He would rise from the dead and did in fact rise, and He had also said that we too would be resurrected, then, given that the former was realized, it is certain that the latter will also take place, since both are humanly impossible.

The Resurrection of Christ is doubly secured: both by prophecy and by history, therefore it is the most certain of facts in mankind’s history. That is why, over and over again, many times, Christ is Risen! He is truly Risen!

~ Archimandrite Arsenios Katerelos

 

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