May 02, 2009

Sunday of Holy Myrrhbearers Woman!

Troparion (Tone 2)

The noble Joseph, taking down thy most pure Body from the Tree,
Wrapped it in clean linen and sweet spices and laid it in a new tomb.
But on the third day thou didst rise,
O Lord, granting the world great mercy.

Troparion (Tone 2)

Verily, the angel came to the tomb and said to the ointment-bearing women,
"the ointment is meet for the dead,
but Christ is shown to be remote from corruption.
But cry ye, 'The Lord is risen, granting the world the Great Mercy.'"

Kontakion - Tone 2

You did command the myrrh-bearers to rejoice, O Christ!
By Your Resurrection, You did stop the lamentation of Eve, O God!
You did command Your apostles to preach: The Savior is Risen!

The term Myrrhbearers refers to the women who came to the tomb of Christ early in the morning and were the first witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus. Also included are Joseph of Arimathea and, who took the body of Jesus down from the cross, embalmed it with myrrh and aloes, wrapped it in clean, and placed it in a new tomb. (Matthew 27:55-61, Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 15:40-16:11, Luke 23:50-24:10, John 19:38-20:18).

The Myrrhbearing women followed Jesus during his earthly ministry in, providing for him and his followers out of their own means (Mark 15:41). They remained faithful to him even during the most dangerous time of his arrest and execution, and not only stood by the cross, but accompanied him to his burial, noticing where the tomb was located. Because of the impending Sabaoth, it was necessary for the burial preparations to be brief. Jewish custom at the time dictated that mourners return to the tomb every day for three days, and once the Sabbath had passed the women returned at the earliest possible moment, bringing myrrh to anoint the body. It is at this point that the Resurrection was revealed to them, and they were commissioned to go and tell the Apostles. They were, in effect, the apostles to the Apostles. For this reason, the Myrrhbearing women, especially Mary Magdalene, are sometimes referred to as "Equal to the Apostles."

Joseph of Arimathea was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly (John 19:38). He went to Pontius Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus and, together with Nicodemus, hurriedly prepared the body for burial. He donated his own new tomb for the burial. A native of Arimathea, he was apparently a man of wealth, and probably a member of the Sanhedrin (which is the way the biblical Greek, bouleutēs — literally, "counselor" — is often interpreted in Matthew 27:57 and Luke 23:50). Joseph was an "honourable counselor, who waited (or "was searching") for the kingdom of God" (Mark 15:43). Luke describes him as "a good man, and just" (Luke 23:50).

Nicodemus (Greek: Νικόδημος) was a Pharisee and also a member of the Sanhedrin, who is first mentioned early in the , when he visits Jesus to listen to his teachings, but he comes by night out of fear (John 3:1-21). He is mentioned again when he states the teaching of the Law of Moses concerning the arrest of Jesus during the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:45-51). He is last mentioned following the Crucifixion, when he and Joseph of Arimathea prepare the body of Jesus for burial (John 19:39-42). There is an apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus that purports to be written by him.

The Myrrhbearers are traditionally listed as:

  • Mary Magdalene
  • Mary, the wife of Cleopas
  • Joanna, the wife of Chuza the steward of Herod Antipas
  • Salome, the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee
  • Susanna
  • Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus
  • Joseph of Arimathea
  • Nicodemus

The Gospels also mention "Mary, the mother of James and Joses" (Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40). This is traditionally understood to be a reference to the Theotokos (Virgin Mary), James and Joses are mentioned in the New Testament as being the brothers of Jesus, and are traditionally interpreted as being the children of Joseph by an earlier marriage. Thus the Virgin Mary would be their step mother.

There are also generally accepted to be other Myrrhbearers, whose names are not known.

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