Homily for the Sunday of the Myrrh-Bearing Women (Gospel of St. Mark 15:43-16:8)


My beloved spiritual children in Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,


By Saint Gregory Palamas

The Resurrection of the Lord is the regeneration of human nature. It is the resuscitation and recreation of the first Adam, whom sin led to death, and who because of death, again was made to retrace his steps on the earth from which he was made. The resurrection is the return to immortal life. Whereas no one saw that first man when he was created and given life--because no man existed yet at that time--a woman was the first person to see him after he had received the breath of life by Divine inbreathing. For after him, Eve was the first human being. Likewise, no one saw the second Adam, who is the Lord, rise from the dead, for none of his followers were nearby and the soldiers guarding the tomb were so shaken that they were like dead men. Following the resurrection, however, it was a woman who saw Him first before the others, as we have heard from Saint Mark's Gospel today. "After His resurrection, Jesus appeared on the morning of the Lord's Day (Sunday) to Mary Magdalene first."

It seems that the Evangelist is speaking clearly about the time of the Lord's Resurrection - that it was morning - that He appeared to Mary Magdalene, and that He appeared to her at the time of the Resurrection. But, if we pay some attention it will become clear that this is not what he says. Earlier in this passage, in agreement with the other Evangelists, Saint Mark says that Mary Magdelene had come to the tomb earlier with the other Myrrh-bearing women and that she went away when she saw it empty. Therefore, the Lord had risen much earlier on the morning on which she saw Him. But wishing to fix the time more exactly, he doesn't say simply "morning," as is the case here, but "very early in the morning." Thus the expression "and the rising of the sun" as used there refers to that time when the slightest light proceeds from the east on the horizon.

According to Saint John, she did not come to the tomb alone, even though she left the tomb without yet having seen the Lord. For she ran to Peter and John, and instead of announcing to them that the Lord has risen, told them that He had been taken from the tomb. Therefore, she did not yet know about the Resurrection. It is not Mary Magdelene's claim that Christ appeared to her first but that He appeared after the actual beginning of the day. There is, of course, a certain shadow covering this matter on the part of the Evangelists that I shall, through your love, uncover. The Good News of the Resurrection of Christ was received from the Lord first, before all others, by the Theotokos. This is truly meet and right. She was the first to see Him after the Resurrection and she had the joy to hear His voice first. Moreover, she not only saw Him with her eyes and heard Him with her ears but with her hands, she was the first and only one to touch His spotless feet, even if the Evangelists do not mention these things clearly. They do not want to present the mother's witness so as not to give the nonbelievers the opportunity of this feast moves us to explain what is relative to the Myrrh-bearers. Justification is given by him who said: There is nothing hidden that shall not be made known, and this also will be made known.

So you see that even before Mary Magdalene, the Mother of God saw Him Who for our salvation suffered and was buried and rose again in the flesh.

Saint Mark says that this appearance happened in the morning, the indisputable beginning of the day when the dawn had passed. But he does not contend that the Resurrection of the Lord occurred at that time, nor that it was his first appearance. Therefore, we have information concerning the Myrrh-bearers that is exact and the general agreement of the Four Evangelists as a higher confirmation. But even with all that they had heard on the same day of the Resurrection from the Myrrh-bearers, from Peter and even from Luke and Cleopas that the Lord lives and that they had seen Him, the Disciples showed disbelief. That is why He castigates them when He appeared to all of them gathered together. When, however, He showed them many times through the witness of many that He was alive, not only did they all believers but they preached it everywhere.

Their voice poured out on all the earth and their words spread to the ends of the earth, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed His word by signs that accompanied it. For until the teaching is preached to all the earth, the signs were indispensable. Exceptional signs were needed to represent and certify the Truth of the message. But excellent signs are not needed for those who accept the word through firm belief. Who are these (who have firm belief?) They are those whose deeds bear witness (to the faith). "Show me your faith in your deeds," he says. "Who is faithful? Let him manifest it with the deeds of his good life."

(Translated by Fr. Hierodeacon Photios Touloumes from MIGNE P.G. Vol 151, pp 236-248 on the Feast of the Holy Annunciation, 1976)


"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" - Saint John Chrysostomos


With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George