June 19, 2021

Second Homily for the Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women (St. Luke of Simferopol)

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and Crimea

In the last three and a half years of the earthly life of our Lord Jesus Christ, when He preached the gospel of righteousness and performed innumerable miracles, the holy apostles and the myrrhbearing women were always with Him.

The apostles He chose were more than the myrrhbearers. Only the apostles were sent by the Lord to preach the gospel. Only the apostles were given the power to cast out demons and heal the sick. The myrrhbearers, although the Lord did not love them less than the apostles, did not receive such gifts from Him.

We need to think about the reasons why our Lord Jesus Christ had a different attitude toward men and a different attitude toward women, these two sexes of the human race. The first thing to think about is whether or not women with their weaker powers could bear the burden of the apostolic work, persecution, and the suffering suffered by the apostles of Christ. There are many testimonies on this subject both in Holy Scripture and in the lives of the apostles.

Think now whether the myrrhbearing women could endure such hardships, pains and persecutions suffered by the apostles. I have told you that except for Saint John the Theologian all the other apostles had a martyr's death and many of them ended their lives on the cross. Could women withstand such hardships, such persecutions and pursuits that the apostles suffered? Can the weaker powers of a woman be compared to the power of the holy apostle Andrew, for example? Certainly not. Women are weaker than men, which is why the Lord Jesus Christ treated men differently and women differently. He did not want to burden the myrrhbearing women with the burden of the apostolic work.

This is one side of the coin. But there is another, which is also very important. Listen to what the great prophet Moses said in the fifth book of the Pentateuch, in Deuteronomy: "A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the Lord your God" (Deut. 22:5). Do not think that this refers to carnivals. And do not think that this short discourse of the prophet, which refers to women's clothing, is insignificant.

This discourse is very important and I would like you to understand it because it will help us to better understand why the Lord Jesus Christ entrusted the apostolic work with its efforts and pains to the male apostles and not to the myrrhbearing women. The distinction the Lord made between men and women in relation to the role and mission of each sex is very important.

Those scientists who deal with biology are well aware that every plant and every animal by nature, or rather by the Creator, is destined to live in certain conditions, which are different for each of them. These conditions determine their life but also the structure of their body.

Now, as far as humans are concerned, there is a big difference between a man and a woman. And their body structure is different. First of all, a woman is much thinner than a man. God intended the woman for a specific task. The woman, not the man. This work is very different from that for which the man is destined.

What is the most important thing in human life? Do all the works that humans do have the same importance? Certainly not. When God created the first humans, Adam and Eve, He gave them the first commandment, very short and very simple: "Be fruitful and multiply" (Gen. 1:28). If this was the first commandment then we must admit that it is extremely important and very profound. Were it not for this command, then the human race would be few and far between in nature. We know that only those nations are considered strong, that have a large population.

The command of God, therefore, "be fruitful and multiply" declares the importance that this work has for the human race. Undoubtedly this applies more to the woman and not the man. For the woman, this work is the most important in her life. This is not what I say but what Holy Scripture says. Of course, it is not right to limit the role of women to childbearing. And I believe that no careful and spiritually cultured person thinks that way.

The Germans say that the whole role and mission of a woman is defined by four words: children, clothes, kitchen, church. It is disrespectful to say and think like that and to offend the whole female sex. For us Orthodox this is unacceptable. I want to say that if a woman has some qualifications she should not give them up. If God has given her a deep intellect, she can engage in science or literature. I repeat, it is a big mistake and it is inadmissible to limit the role of women to childbearing and raising children.

But this does not apply to all women. Because there are few women who have some exceptional abilities or talents or inclination in art, science or philosophy. Most of them must see as their most important work what the Lord intended for them. Giving birth to a wife and taking care of her children is a very important task. And it is unacceptable for a woman to leave her child unattended. No other woman can take care of her child as its mother does.

Blood kinship plays a very big role here, which we must not ignore. Breast milk, the properties of which we may not be well aware of, is also very important for the proper development of the child. And another equally important thing: The love that a mother offers to her child cannot be offered to it by any other woman.

Woe to the child who is raised by a stranger woman and not its mother or who grows up in an educational institution.

Woe to the woman who denies her child.

Woe to this woman who ignores and does not pay attention to the priorities of her gender.

Woe to those women who, despising their dignity, prefer to wear men's clothes.

This is also confirmed by Holy Scripture with the discourse we have already mentioned: "A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment." Of course, not every person dressed in clothes of the opposite sex is considered an abomination. It cannot be an abomination to God for a woman who works as a plasterer to feed her young children and is forced to wear men's clothes to do her job. This is not the case here. Here we are talking about women who despise their own women's clothing. I have seen in universities many professors who wear men's clothes. These are abominations before God, they transgress the command given to them by God.

This is why the Lord did not call the myrrhbearing women to undertake the work intended for men. And that is why the Lord asks women to appreciate and respect their own female gender, the qualities of their psychological composition that God has given them. If you have these qualities from God, keep them with great respect and thanksgiving to the Lord. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.