by Protopresbyter Dr Georgios Lekkas, priest of the Holy Diocese of Belgium
In the presence of the Living God, the human soul inevitably moves between terror and ecstasy: from the terror of the abyss that separates us from the inaccessible God to the ecstasy of the Miracle that unites us with Him.
As St Mark’s gospel clearly implies, this was also true of the Myrrhbearers. They first ‘saw’ the Resurrection of the Saviour in the words of the angel in the empty tomb and so even before Thomas they touched the Resurrection with the hands of their minds and hearts.
They started out with a pure and human love for a great teacher and friend and at the last they were filled with spiritual love for the God-Man Christ. The Myrrhbearers were the first to enter into the burning bush of the resurrected God-Man, from which came their terror and their ecstasy.
In terror one becomes aware of one’s insignificance before the Almighty God, while in ecstasy one becomes aware of one’s greatness through grace, when the absolutely great God deigns to surrender himself to our absolute insignificance. Thus terror is changed into ecstasy, which is why the degree of ecstasy depends usually on the degree of terror.
Then man stands in awe, not only before the resurrected God-Man, but also before his own self when he opens himself before the infinite God and becomes the recipient of His Eternal Life. He is filled with Awe, seeing Absolute Richness accept absolute poverty. The man who has received through grace the attributes of the Risen One will then wish to die himself, so that all may live.
Man was created in the image of the Triune God so that through grace he might become a god-man. In a state of ecstasy before the resurrected God-Man, man’s existence is unified and through grace he becomes a god-man himself. However when man is cut off from the theandric energies of the Risen One, he becomes supremely self-destructive in his relationship with himself, his fellow humans, the planet he inhabits and all of Creation.
As shown by the example of the Myrrhbearers, the man who opens himself to the resurrected Jesus in the phase of terror, experiences a small closure within himself, at the very moment he confesses his unworthiness of such a God. Yet paradoxically this quasi-closure serves as a necessary pre-condition for the ecstatic opening of love to an all-merciful God.
In ecstasy the purpose of man’s creation is fulfilled: The man who is open to the Miracle receives Eternal Life, which purifies him from within so that at the right time he will become its permanent bearer. In the state of ecstasy we do not undergo a loss of self; instead our deepest self is nourished with Eternal Life.
Sunday of the Myrrhbearers, 30.4.2023.