The Myrrh Bearers
On the second Sunday following The Resurrection, we celebrate the feast of the myrrh bearing people. Who are those people?
(Joh 19:38-42) And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, sought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about one hundred pound weight. Then they took the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulcher, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulcher was nigh at hand.
(Mat 27:61) And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulcher.
(Mat 28:1-10) In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come; see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulcher with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
(Mar 16:1) And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
(Luke 23:55-56) And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulcher, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.
(Luke 24:1) Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
(Luke 24:9-10) And returned from the sepulcher, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.
(Luke 8:3) And Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for him of their substance.
(John 19: 25) Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
Therefore the number of the myrrh bearing people is ten:
1- Joseph of Arimathea.
3- Mary Magdalene.
4- The other Mary, the mother of James and the mother of Lord is the same woman, because of her marriage to Joseph, she bacame the mother of his son the younger James was called the brother of the Lord, according to the Eastern tradition and Theofilakt explanation of the Gospel of Luke.
5- Salomy, the daughter of the betrothed Joseph from previous marriage and the wife of Zabadee and the mother of his two sons, beloved John and James the elder. This explains why Jesus was the maternal-uncle to beloved John and James the elder. [So John leaned on the breast of his uncle at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? And “the mother of the sons of Zabadee” addressed her brother asking for her sons to sit on his left and on his right. (Mt 20: 20-21) Joseph had four male children and brothers to Christ: younger James, Yosi, Simon and Judas and three daughters, Aster, Thamer and Salomy.]
6- Joanna, the wife Chuza, Herod’s steward.
7- Mary, Cleopa’s wife – the brother of the betrothed Joseph.
8- Mary, sister of Lazarus.
9- Martha, sister of Lazarus.
This is depicted in the icon of the myrrh bearing women showing seven women with the Theotokos atop. In addition to the two men who arrived earlier with sweet spices at interment.
Through the intercessions of the myrrh bearing women, O Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on us and save us, Amen.
+The Reverend Father Mansour Azar
Translated from Arabic to English by Jack Khoury, certified interpreter