Going through life we learn that where we look will guide our attention. If we want our life to follow Christ, then we must turn our attention to Christ. It requires courage and faith to not be distracted by the temptations of the world.
My brothers and sisters, in this morning’s gospel, we hear of the great courage and faith of women. Today, the Sunday of the myrrh bearing women, we understand if you’re paying attention to the story, that the myrrh bearing women were the very first evangelists. It was the women who stayed until the very end to see where the tomb was, and it was the women who went to the tomb first thing Sunday morning. It says at the very beginning of the day, where were the apostles? They were hiding. They were afraid, but it was the myrrh bearing women who had the courage and the faith to go to the tomb. And they weren’t expecting to see him alive. They were expecting to anoint his body as was their custom. They took all the spices and they went to the tomb, but they didn’t find him. Instead, they found the angel and they took this good news, the gospel. And they went and told the apostles but the apostles didn’t believe them.
Now, I wrote in the bulletin a little funny story about Mrs. Portokalos from the movie. She reminds us that the woman can turn the head wherever she wants for the man. “Look right. Look Left. Up and Down, or straight ahead. That’s where I look. The same was true with the myrrh bearing women. They took the attention of the apostles and they turned the attention of the apostles on Christ, and they sent them to the tomb to see and to believe.
Now, I remember years ago when I was learning to drive, I was told you have to keep your eyes on the road because if you look this way long enough, the car begins to go this way. If you look that way, the car begins to go this way. It is only natural that wherever we are looking, that’s the way we’re headed. It’s true whether you’re riding a bike, driving a car, I presume it’s the same thing when you’re, I don’t think they call it driving a boat. Do they call it driving a boat? Where you look is where you go. And so the myrrh bearing women turned the attention of the apostles on Christ and on the tomb and on the resurrection. And as soon as they were able to turn their attention there, then they were able to believe.
Go all the way back to Genesis. Go all the way back to the story of Adam and Eve. And we have Eve being interrupted by the serpent. And the serpent, when he gets her attention, she turns away from God and she begins paying attention to the Devil. And what did she do? She followed the Devil’s advice. This is why we say repentance, metanoite, to turn back to Christ, to turn back to God, to turn our attention back to God so we can be headed in his direction, toward him.
So I want to do a quick little experiment. Turn your heads to the right. What do you see? Tell me what you see. You see icons. Some of you see, if you’re looking straight to the right, you see the stain glass windows. Do you see the altar? No. Now turn to the left. Do you see the altar? But where is God in this church? On the altar table. You see, where we look will guide our attention. This is why we face the altar during liturgy. This is why even I as the priest, I don’t face you during the liturgy. I face God. I face the altar. Because when we turn our attention toward God, we will follow him. And this is the message that the myrrh bearing women have to teach us today. And they did it with courage and faith.
Because when you are following God, it requires courage to not be distracted by all the other things in life, all of the other messages that the world has to offer. Because the Devil didn’t stop with Eve, he continues to try to turn our attention away from God. And so it requires courage to stand up to the world and say, “No, I’m going to focus my attention on God. No, I’m going to look for God’s way in my life. Not the world’s way, not the politician’s way, but God’s way.” And when we do that, my brothers and sisters, even if we hit a little road bump every now and then because we’re headed toward God, focusing on God, he gets us through everything. The apostles didn’t have it easy, the women didn’t have it easy, but they had God because they were walking toward him. That’s our challenge: to walk toward God and not toward the world and not toward all the other distractions. And we will find him as the women found him at the tomb. We will find him and he will lead us and guide us into heaven. CHRIST IS RISEN!