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The Myrrh-Bearing Women

Christ is Risen is the witness of the Church to the world. The discovery of the empty tomb by the Myrrh-bearing Women was the first sign of the Resurrection. These women were present when Joseph of Arimathea placed the lifeless body of Jesus in the grave. They watched him roll the large stone over the mouth of the cave in which Jesus was buried. Early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they brought spices to anoint the body of Jesus. As they approached the grave, it occurred to them that the large stone would have to be rolled back if they wanted to enter the grave. As they were discussing this, they came to the grave and saw the stone rolled back. They entered the tomb and found an Angel seated there. They were afraid, but the Angel said to them, "Do not be frightened. I know you are looking for Jesus the Crucified, but He is not here. He has been raised, exactly as He promised. Come and see the place where He was laid. Then go quickly and tell His Disciples." (Mt. 28: 5-6)

Our Church remembers these holy women on the second Sunday after Easter. The Icon of the Myrrh-bearing Women witnesses the Resurrection of Christ as it follows the Gospel account. The cave represents the burial place, originally belonging to Joseph of Arimathea. Now there only remains the empty sepulchre and linen cloth. The faithful women stand by it as the Angel of the Lord tells them, "He has been raised."

Unlike Lazarus, who was called from his grave when the stone was rolled back, Christ was not called forth from His tomb. The Angel moved the stone to show that He was no longer there. He has risen! The image is sung over and over in the Resurrectional verse:

The Myrrh-bearing Women arrived just before the dawn at the tomb of the Giver of Life and found an Angel seated on the stone who spoke these words to them: "Why do you seek the living among the dead? Why do you mourn the Incorruptible among those subject to decay? Go, announce the good news to His Disciples."

The message of the Icon of the Myrrh-bearing Women touches us. Christ is not in the tomb. He is Risen!

TROPARION — The Angel stood by the tomb and cried out to the women bringing ointment: "Ointments are for the dead, but Christ has shown Himself not subject to corruption; so now cry out: 'The Lord is risen, bestowing great mercy upon the world."