Today is the second Sunday after Pascha, and therefore the Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women: Mary Magdalene, the Theotokos, Joanna, Salome, Mary the wife of Cleopas, Susanna, and Mary and Martha of Bethany (Lazarus’s sisters). They are the women who went to the tomb where Christ was buried to anoint him with spices as was the tradition for burial.
The Church teaches us all to honor and emulate these saints, but in the last few years I’ve felt especially drawn to them as models of Orthodox women. At this point, the male disciples were in hiding, afraid of being captured by the authorities. The women disciples acted with courage and determination to do what was right, acted out of love and despite their uncertainties.
Obviously, there are many ways to be a Christian woman (Sts. Mariamne, Theodosia, Nino, Olga, Hilda, Xenia, and many others tell us that). And equally obviously, the story of the Myrrhbearers has meaning for all of us.
And yet, there is something that remains so beautiful and so powerful about the way in which we see these women still wanting to serve their Lord, the one they had followed even to the Cross. There’s something about that moment, deep in the heart of the night, when all seemed lost, when they stepped out in faith and good courage and were the first to hear the glad tidings of the Resurrection. It’s very clear and important that these were the women who loved the Lord so much that they defied the authorities, the example of the male disciples, and their own fears and went to tend to him.
As a model for how to be a Christian and a woman, the Myrrhbearers are–for me–both inspiring and challenging.