Three weeks ago we celebrated Pascha. Now we are at the Second Sunday after Easter (April 18, 2021) — the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women. These women pour the oil of our salvation over the bodies of those who belong to Christ Jesus; the oil announces LIFE. Who are these women? Do you know who we are talking about? Scripture reveals to us the names of the women, each with a personal history and each with a mission (like us). They are Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jose, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome. Plus, we have Joseph of Arimathea. Each person here is essential for making the Risen Lord known and loved and followed.
When the women encounter the Risen Lord at the tomb He tells them not to be afraid at the sight of Him and of His announcement: the crucified is now risen. His promise is true; the offer to be united with God is made good, Life is bestowed upon us. The first act of the Risen Lord is to give the women a central mission, a particular service (a diaconia) for the spread of the Gospel: go and tell the disciples and Peter, that crucified Jesus is now risen, He is alive.
The Church understands this biblical narrative of vocation and place in the Way –the Way of the Lord– in generations: the first generation are the Apostles, then the disciples, and the deacons (seen first in the person of Joseph of Arimathea, then the other deacons we read about in the Apostles). No one group can exist without the other because of the particularity of each God-mission given to each person. This mission we speak of, as St John Henry Newman tells us, is the mission given by God is unique, unrepeatable, not transferable, given for a specific purpose. Some are called to be priests, some deacons, some catechists, some nurses, some bakers, some gardeners, some machinists, some writers, some lawyers, etc. The mission the Lord gives us links us to him and those others who have served the Gospel and the Church through 2000 years.
St. Peter Chrysologus speaks of the mission of the Women and the apostles, “The women were first to honor the risen Christ, the apostles first to suffer for him. The women were ready with spices; the apostles prepared for scourges. The women entered the tomb; the apostles would soon enter the dungeon. The women hastened to express their eulogy; the apostles embraced chains for his sake. The women poured oils; the apostles poured out their blood.”