On the third Sunday of Pascha, known as the Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women we commemorate not just the ministry of women, but the joy that comes from courage. In the Gospel for this Sunday, we hear two stories about courage and faith.
In the first story, Joseph of Arimathea takes up his courage and requests the body of Jesus from Pilate. Joseph was a wealthy man that was willing to risk his prestige and wealth to bury the body of His Lord. He was rewarded by God, and Pilate granted him the permission, the blessing, to bury Christ. In the second story, a group of faithful women who had been following Jesus during his entire ministry, woke up before dawn to go and anoint the body of their Lord. Their courage was also rewarded, and they were the first to see with their own eyes the risen Lord.
There are many stories in the scriptures which share how God changes fear into courage, and courage into blessings, and there are many stories of the saints since then, which share how God has returned courage for blessings. What makes us think He would forget us, just because we live in modern times?
Sometimes I think we forget that the Christian life requires courage. Maybe it is because we have spent the better part of our life, living in a world that was either Orthodox (like in Greece) or at the very least supported the Christian moral way of life. When it came to our faith, especially in Tarpon Springs, Florida, courage was never really a required part of living our faith in Christ. The entire town shines with the stories of our Greek Orthodox heritage.
As our society slowly wakes up from quarantine in the weeks and months to come, please remember it will require courage to return to the Church publicly for worship. It will require courage to trust the Church Fathers, our Patriarch and Bishops, to know when and how to reopen our Churches for public worship. Just as Joseph of Arimathea waited for permission to bury the Lord, we will wait for permission to gather. Just as the Myrrhbearing Women waiting for the end of the Sabbath to gather, we will wait until the end of quarantine to gather. It will require courage and God always rewards courage.