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Myrrh-Bearing Women

SERMON GIVEN On 11th May 1997 Third Sunday in Eastertide:

Feast of the Myrrh-bearing Women, St Joseph of Arimathea and St Nicodemus

We keep today the feast of a number of the followers of Christ of whom we think seldom, because they are mentioned very little in the Scriptures. And each of them could be a lesson for us.

St. Joseph of Arimathea was a rich man who listened to Christ with an open mind and did not commit himself. Neither did Nicodemus; but Nicodemus was a learned man, part of the Sanhedrin. He had been listening to Christ, he had been asking questions from Him, he wanted to understand, he wanted to be sure. But neither of them had committed themselves to follow Christ, to declare themselves as His disciples.

And yet, when Christ in the eyes of everyone was defeated, when victory had come to His enemies, when He was dead, about to be buried, their faithfulness to Him who had taught them words of life came to the fore. And they joined the Mother of God to bring down the body of Christ and to bury him. Daringly they went to Pontius Pilate and asked for this body so that they could bury Him with veneration. In the course of His life they had been listening to Him with a hesitant yet open mind. When death came their faithfulness sprang to the fore. And seeing the pain of the Mother of God and St. John the apostle there was no doubt left in them; they must declare themselves, because they could not accept that He should be rejected through defeat after having been their teacher, their guide and their friend.

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