Beloved Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

Christ is Risen! Χριστὸς Ἀνέστη!

On the Second Sunday after Pascha, we remember the Myrrh Bearing Women, Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James, and Salome. In the Gospel lesson we hear once again the account from the Gospel of Mark about these women who went to the tomb and found it empty.

Women played an important and vital role in the story of Pascha. They had followed their Lord and Master to the Cross, standing there as He was crucified and died. They assisted Joseph of Arimathea as he buried Him. They knew all the details of what had happened. As the Gospel reading for today says, “They saw where He was laid.” When they returned to the tomb after the Sabbath, they knew where to go, because they knew the location of the tomb. They also knew that a large stone had been rolled at the entry to seal it. So as they walked to the tomb, they asked each other a very important question, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?”

You can imagine their surprise when they arrived to find the stone was rolled back. Yes, the tomb was open – but not to let Christ out at that very moment, as we might imagine or as some artwork depicts – but to demonstrate that he was already risen. The tomb was empty.

Beloved in the Lord, over these days of the Paschal season, we too must travel in our hearts to the place where Jesus was laid to rest. What are the stones that must be rolled away that will help us receive the Good News, not to hear it as some ancient story, but as a life-changing and world-transforming event? But, unlike those women, know that the stone is already rolled away, for Christ Himself removes all obstacles when we approach Him.

So, on this second Sunday after Pascha in our church calendar, we celebrate the faith of those women who bravely went to the tomb to complete the burial rites for their Master, only to have the resurrection revealed to them. It is a simple fact: Women were the first to encounter the Risen Christ and take the news to the disciples. These faithful women proclaimed the Resurrection, becoming powerful examples for all of us.

We can also share the good news of the Risen Christ, even in these continued times of separation from our parishes and one another. Our physical distance does not prevent us from performing acts of kindness and compassion for others. Daily, we see the good works of many faithful men and women of our parishes, caring for so many whose lives have been upended by this pandemic. Do not let social distancing hinder each of us from becoming witnesses of our faith by proclaiming the joy of the Resurrection not only in words, but the actions of your life.

May the light and love of Christ fill your hearts and homes during this Paschal season!

Χριστὸς Ἀνέστη! Christ is Risen!