In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
We remember today the Myrrh-bearing Women, Joseph of Arimathea and
Nicodemus, people who in the course of the Gospel are hardly mentioned,
yet who, when Christ was seemingly defeated, when death, rejection,
betrayal and hatred had conquered, proved to be people of faithfulness
and courage; the faithfulness of the heart, and the courage that can be
born only of love. At the moment of the Crucifixion all the Apostles had
fled save one, John, who stood at the foot of the Cross with the Mother
of God. Everyone else had abandoned Christ, only a small group of women
stood at a short distance from the Cross, and when He had died, they
came to anoint His Body which Joseph of Arimathea had sought from
Pilate, unafraid of being recognised as a disciple, because in life and
in death love and faithfulness had conquered.
Let us reflect on this. It is easy to be Christ's disciples when we are
on the crest of the wave, in the security of countries where no
persecution, no rejection is endured, no betrayal can lead us to
martyrdom, or simply to becoming the victims of mockery and rejection.
Let us think of ourselves not in regard to Christ alone but with regard
to one another, because Christ has said that what we have done to any
one of us, to the smallest, to the most insignificant, we have done to
Let us ask ourselves how we behave when someone is rejected, mocked,
ostracised, condemned by public opinion or by the opinion of those who
mean something to us, whether at that moment our heart remains faithful,
whether at that moment we find courage to say, ‘He was, and he remains
my friend whether you accept or reject him’. There is no greater measure
of faithfulness than that faithfulness which is made manifest in defeat.
Let us consider this, because we all are defeated, we are defeated in so
many ways. We all strive, with whatever energy we have — a little or
much, to be what we should be, and we are defeated at every moment.
Should we not look at one another not only with compassion, but with the
faithfulness of friends who are prepared to stand by a person who falls,
falls away from grace, falls away from his own ideal, frustrates all
hopes and expectations which we have set on him or her. At that time let
us stand by, at that time let us be faithful and prove that our love was
not conditioned by the hope of victory but was a wholehearted gift,
gratuitous, joyful, wonderful. Amen.