It Took Some Time to Praise

By Michael Smith

A Reading from the Gospel of Mark 16:1-8

1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 4 When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.


Today’s gospel lesson ends our daily readings from the Gospel of Mark. It concludes at the empty tomb where three women have gone to anoint the body of Jesus as was their burial custom. Upon arrival they are shocked to see the large stone already rolled away from the entrance to the tomb and “a young man, dressed in a white robe” telling them that Jesus who was crucified has been raised, and giving them instructions to go and tell Peter and the disciples.

A curious thing about this passage is that although the women are told to “go and tell,” the gospel writer records that their obedience to this command was not immediate: “So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” This is a reminder to me that some of the extraordinary occurrences of life, good or bad, can leave us in awe, shock, or trauma and temporarily immobilized. We should give ourselves and others a break during these times. It will pass, or (by God’s mercy) we can be healed if need be, and the life God has intended for us will continue as it obviously did for Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome.

The commitment, courage, and faithfulness of these women is celebrated during Eastertide in the Eastern Orthodox tradition on the “Sunday of the Myrrh-Bearing Women.” One of the hymns appointed for that day sings: “Standing by the tomb the angel said to the myrrh-bearing women: ‘Myrrh is for the dead; but Christ has shown himself stranger to death.’ So go and cry aloud, ‘The Lord has risen and granted the world his great mercy.’” Amen.

Michael G. Smith served as bishop of North Dakota for fifteen years and is currently the Assistant Bishop of Dallas. He works with the Navajoland Iona Collaborative and is a Benedictine Oblate and an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

Church of the Good Shepherd, Lookout Mountain, Tenn.
The Diocese of Enugu (Church of Nigeria)


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