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May 3, 2020

On the Myrrhbearing Women (St. Cyril of Alexandria)

By St. Cyril of Alexandria

(Fragments from his Commentary on the Gospel of Luke)

Luke 23:55 - "And women also followed, who had come with Him from Galilee."

Wise women followed our common Savior Christ, gathering whatever was both useful and necessary for faith in Him. And when He gave His flesh as a ransom for the life of us all, they wisely betook themselves to tend His body: for they supposed that the corpse would continue in the grave. 

Luke 24:4 - "It came to pass, as they were perplexed at this."

The women came to the sepulchre, and when they could not find the body of Christ,----for He had risen,----they were much perplexed. And what followed? For their love's sake towards Christ, and their earnest zeal thereunto, they were counted worthy of seeing holy angels, who even told them the joyful tidings, and became the heralds of the resurrection, saying, "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen." For the Word of God ever lives, and is by His own nature Life: but when He humbled Himself to emptying, and submitted to be made like to us, He tasted death. But this proved to be the death of death: for He arose from the dead, to be the way whereby not Himself so much but we rather return to incorruption. And let no one seek Him Who ever lives among the dead; for He is not here, with mortality, that is, and in the tomb. But where rather is He? In heaven plainly, and in godlike glory. And more firmly to settle the faith of the women in these things, they recall to their minds what Christ had said, that "He must necessarily be given up into the hands of sinners, and suffer, and the third day rise again."

Angels too brought the joyful tidings of the nativity to the shepherds in Bethlehem, and now they tell His resurrection: and heaven yields its service to proclaim Him, and the hosts of the spirits which are above attend the Son as God, even when He had become flesh.

Luke 24:9 - "And they returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest."

The women having been taught the mystery by the voice of angels, run to tell these things to the disciples. For it was fitting that this grace, though so splendid, should be granted to women. For she who of old was the minister of death is now freed from her guilt by ministering to the voice of the holy angels, and by being the first both to learn and tell the venerable mystery of the resurrection. The female sex therefore gained both acquittal from their reproach and the reversal of their curse. For He Who of old had said to them, "In pains shall you bear children," gave them deliverance from their misfortune, by having met them in the garden, as another Evangelist mentions, and said, "Rejoice." To the holy apostles however the account of the resurrection seemed absolutely but an idle tale, and falsehood; for even they did not know the inspired Scripture, and so they were incredulous, and mocked at the news and rejected it.

How did the disciples in John's Gospel, having heard Mary, and having run to the sepulchre, believe? For to this also the Scripture bears witness in their behalf, saying, "When therefore they entered, the other disciple who came first to the sepulchre both saw and believed." But in Luke it is said, "And they returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest,"----it was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the wife of James, and the rest with them, who told these things to the apostles, ----"and they disbelieved them."