August 4, 2019

Homily on the Seventh Eothinon Gospel - John 20:1-10

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

As we continue to interpret the Eothina Gospels, which are read during Matins on Sunday, today we will say a few words on the Eothinon which was read this morning in church and refers to the visitation to the tomb first by Mary Magdalene and after by two disciples of Christ, namely the Apostle Peter and the Apostle John, according to the description of the Evangelist John.

First of all, as we have said before, by divine economy the first to be informed of the event of the Resurrection and to have seen the Risen Christ were the Myrrhbearing women. In a previous sermon we analyzed that this took place to restore female existence and to correct Eve's mistake. As can be seen from the Gospels that describe the events of the Resurrection of Christ, the Myrrhbearing women went to Christ's tomb in the early hours of Sunday. At first they went to anoint Christ with perfumes, then, when they found that the body of Christ was not in the tomb, they felt astonished, which forced them to come to the tomb repeatedly. And then they announced what they saw to the Apostles, so they too were running to the tomb.

This shows that the existence and presence of women within the Church is not humble and condescending. According to their faith and their spiritual courage they know Christ - no one is excluded from this experience, neither men or women - and then the transformed women report to the Apostles what they saw, that is, they do not despise the Apostolic office because they had been first to have this great experience, but they respect the Apostles and honor them.

So Mary Magdalene, says today's Eothinon, seeing the stone shifted that was in front of the tomb, ran and announced it to the Apostles Peter and John saying to them, "They took the Lord out of the tomb and we do not know where they put Him." This prompted the two Apostles to visit the tomb where Christ was placed.

It is also characteristic how the two Apostles went to the tomb. The other disciple, John, who out of humility does not mention his own name, ran faster than the Apostle Peter, saw only the linens, without the body of Christ, but did not enter the tomb. Then came the Apostle Peter, who first entered into the tomb and saw the linens which wrapped the body of the dead, as well as the sudarium, which was the cloth with which they wrapped the head of the dead. The sudarium was not with the linens, but separate from them and folded separately in another place. This means that Christ was resurrected, after emerging out of the shrouds with which he had been wrapped and folding the sudarium with which His head was wrapped. This was discovered by the Apostle Peter. However, the Evangelist John, who entered the tomb after the Apostle Peter, also discovered it. We see, then, that John was first to run to the tomb, followed by Peter, but Peter was first to go in, and then John followed.

The Holy Fathers say that Peter is the expressor of praxis, and John, the beloved disciple of Christ, is the expressor of theoria. Theoria is zealous and runs towards Christ, then, with praxis, man enters the tomb of the Master, followed by theoria which makes him believe in the Risen Christ. Praxis is repentance and the struggle to obey Christ's commandments. Theoria is internal noetic prayer of the heart and the vision of God.

Therefore, there is a path to finding the Risen Christ. We begin with zeal and inspiration, motivated by a visionary saint, as the Apostles were motivated by Mary Magdalene, then we observe the will of God, the commandments of God, and after this lawful course we find and affirm the Resurrection of Christ and our resurrection from the dead works of sin.

Christ was resurrected to resurrect us from the works of sin. That is why we celebrate Christ's Resurrection every Sunday. Let us personally discover it, following the method of the spiritual path that the Apostles Peter and John have shown us.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.