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Homily for 5/15/05 - Holy Myrrhbearers

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  • David Moser
    Mark 15:43-16:8 The holy Myrrhbearers came to the tomb of Christ expecting to find His Body. Instead, they found our salvation; the empty tomb and an angel who
    Message 1 of 1 , May 18, 2005
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      Mark 15:43-16:8



      The holy Myrrhbearers came to the tomb of Christ expecting to find His Body.
      Instead, they found our salvation; the empty tomb and an angel who declared
      to them the good news of the Resurrection. They came, expecting death and
      found instead, life - they came sorrowful and found joy - they found that
      their hopes were not destroyed, but were already fulfilled. Before, they
      had seen with the eyes of the world, but coming to the tomb, their spiritual
      eyes were opened and they saw that their salvation, and ours had already
      been accomplished, even before they knew it. In seeing the empty tomb, in
      hearing the words of the angel, the seeds of their faith blossomed into
      life.



      We, too, need to hear the words of the Gospel that Christ is Risen, and like
      the women we can then allow that Good News to elicit from us the flower of
      our faith. Like Mary, the sister of Lazarus, when Jesus told her that He
      was the Resurrection and the Life; we too often think of the Resurrection in
      terms of the future - something that will happen much later, something that
      doesn't really impact us right now. But the myrrh-bearers, like the sisters
      of Lazarus, discovered that this was not some future hope, but a present
      reality. We ourselves need to discover this in our own lives. The
      Resurrection must become for us a present reality, something that impacts
      our lives right now, this very moment. Christ said to us, "the kingdom of
      God is within you" and so it is. The Kingdom of God is not some future
      hope, it is a present reality that exists right now in you. However, like
      the Myrrh-bearers before they arrive at the tomb, you and I don't always
      recognize the present reality. We go on thinking that we have time, that
      heaven is not yet, that God is coming but not yet, that there is still time
      to enjoy the life of the world and put off the spiritual life until later.
      Our daily prayers get postponed, delayed, cut short or eliminated all
      together because of the pressing needs or even just the convenience of the
      world. The services of the Church are neglected because we have other
      things, "better things", to do. We don't find time to read the Gospel or
      the lives of the saints or other spiritual books. We neglect our neighbor,
      charity, and acts of mercy and kindness, because we are too busy, too proud,
      too intolerant and impatient, or too controlling to simply offer them to
      God. We do not have any sense that the Kingdom of Heaven is here and now, a
      present reality and we walk through it with closed eyes, preferring instead
      to fill our minds and hearts with the temporary "reality" of the world and
      daily life.



      The saints, like us, lived in the world. They were confronted every day
      with the cares of the world, with its seeming "reality", with its demands
      and pleasures. Every day, indeed every moment, they chose to act instead on
      the reality of the Kingdom of God. They ordered their lives, developed
      their values and preferences on the faith that the Kingdom of God was not
      just some vague idea or hope, that they might someday realize, but instead
      choose to act on the faith that the Resurrection, the Kingdom of God and
      their salvation was already accomplished, a present reality. Even though
      they could not always fully perceive that reality, they acted on the faith
      that it was true. The myrrh-bearers came to the tomb and although they saw
      the evidences of the Resurrection, they did not yet see the Risen Christ
      themselves. But they acted on faith that the Resurrection was a reality,
      and they began to order their lives, to make their choices, to direct their
      actions based on the faith that it had happened. When the women ran to the
      disciples to tell of the empty tomb, they saw the same thing that we today
      see on Pascha at the Holy Sepulchre - they saw an empty tomb, and they saw
      an angel (just as today we see the descent of the Holy Fire) proclaiming the
      resurrection. Having seen the same thing as the myrrh-bearers do we exhibit
      the same faith. Do we live as though the Resurrection is a present reality,
      not a semi-legendary event of the dim past or a vague hope of the distant
      future?



      Sometimes when I come into the Church during Bright Week and all the doors
      are opened (just as the tomb was opened) and the smell of incense still
      hangs in the air and the presence of the heavenly hosts is palpable in the
      atmosphere, I look around and see ... no one. Here are all the evidences of
      the Resurrection, but the crowds who came on Pascha are gone - abandoning
      the empty tomb, abandoning the angel, abandoning the Risen Christ, Who they
      so recently proclaimed at the top of their voices and they return to the
      world, to its necessities and its demands and its harsh "reality" without so
      much as a second thought, without so much as a regret that the Church lays
      empty and the eternal hymns of Pascha are unsung and the joyous shouts of
      the Resurrection have fallen silent. It is as if, having struggled all
      through Lent to ascend to the peak of the Resurrection, they cannot then
      abandon their hard won prize fast enough.



      Do you truly believe that Christ is Risen? Do you truly embrace the present
      reality that the Kingdom of God is within you? Is your spiritual life real?
      Having come to the empty tomb, having heard the words of the angel and
      repeated them with your own lips it is necessary to live your life in the
      joy and the reality of the Resurrection. Christ is Risen! - take that
      Truth, that Gospel with you as you return to your "everyday" life. It is
      not an empty ritual that this greeting persists throughout the Paschal
      season. Recall the hymns of Pascha - do not let them fall silent, but sing
      them each day. Come to the Church, that visible reminder of the Kingdom of
      God which finds its reality in your heart, as often as you can in order to
      strengthen your perception of that reality. The world will impinge on you
      at every opportunity - turn away from it as often as possible, replacing the
      demands of the world with the joys of the Kingdom of God. Renew and
      re-invigorate your prayer life with the Paschal prayers. Spend more time in
      prayer and in the Gospel. Read the 11 Resurrectional Gospels of Matins over
      and over again during this season in order that you might have constantly
      before your mind the eyewitness account of this moment which is at the core
      of your salvation. Sing the tropar of Pascha; greet one another and even
      strangers with the Paschal Greeting (just as St Seraphim did year round);
      read each day in your own prayers the hymns of the paschal aposticha that
      are sung in Church throughout this season. The Resurrection is not a dim
      memory or a vague hope - it is a present reality which, with but a little
      effort, can remain present in your mind and heart. The Kingdom of God is
      not some vague, otherworldly future hope - it is a sharp present reality
      that is as close as your own heart. You saw it at Pascha - now keep that
      vision alive and fresh and new. Live no longer in the world, but live
      within the Kingdom of God which is within you.
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