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Orthodox Spirituality

Sermons of Archpriest Anthony B. Gavalas

Being a Myrrhbearer

Sunday of the Holy Myrrhbearers
28 April/11 May 2003

+ + + Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen! + + +

Today the Holy Orthodox Church commemorates that remarkable group of people called the Myrrh Bearers. Those people who because of their love of Jesus Christ were not afraid, were not terrorized by the fear that hung over Jerusalem after the Crucifixion of our Savior. Their love overcame that fear, their love overcame their worries, their love overcame the natural horror that they had having seen Him, Who was the center of their lives crucified before their very eyes in such a humiliating way. Their love did not allow fear to overcome their souls. Their love did not allow the worry of their position, for both Joseph and Nicodemus were prominent men in society, and it certainly did not do their reputations any good at all to be associated with this lately condemned and executed criminal, Jesus Christ.

All of these things, all of these natural fears, all of these worries, all of these things were put aside because they loved Christ.

The sermon today is short, because both the Gospel and the icon that we see in front of us, and this small remembrance should be enough for us to understand what the meaning of this special Lord's Day is, that the Church has devoted one of the fifty-two Sundays of the year to commemoration of these people. The Church has given over one Sunday to show them forth as examples to all of us so that we might see them, we might praise them, but even more importantly we might imitate them. For all of us who would call ourselves Orthodox Christians want to be myrrh bearers. And we can be myrrh bearers, we can imitate their devotion to the Body of our Savior. First of all by preparing a place for that Body in our own bodies, in our own hearts by preparing properly for Holy Communion, and thus giving housing, giving a place of rest to that sanctifying Body of our Lord Jesus Christ. But also in another way, by supporting, and helping, and ministering to the Body of Jesus Christ, that is the Church. And this support is not simply financial. This support is in the consolation and love that we show one another, the support that we give to one another, the giving of all of our talents to the Church, to help and to project the work of the Lord Jesus Christ in His Church, that is the salvation of men. For this is the most important thing: in serving the Church we serve the salvation not only of our own souls, but of the souls of those, of our children, of our grandchildren, and of the world at large that still awaits to hear and to apply and to make its life the life in Christ.

Therefore on this Sunday, when we dedicate ourselves once again to service of the Church, to service of the Body of Christ, each one of us seeking out in whatever way that is possible for us to support the work of the Church. First of all by preparing ourselves to receive the Holy Mysteries, and then each one of us looking to his own talents, looking to his own strengths, looking to all of those things that God has given to us, and dedicating them once again as a priority to the service of the Church. In this way we become by grace myrrh bearers, we become continuers of their work of caring for the Body of Christ, and sharers in the blessings of those who care for the Body of Christ by Him Himself, Jesus Christ our Lord Himself, and His Father, and the Holy Spirit, to Whom be glory and honor unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Christ is Risen!

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