A Reflection on Mark 15.47 and 16.1 by Barbara Simmonds LLM
Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus saw where the body was laid. 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.
Earlier in Chapter 15 Mark has told us that there was a group of women who were watching the crucifixion of Jesus from a distance. These women had supported Jesus and the disciples with money, food, and loving care. Now two of these women have seen the hurried temporary burial of Jesus, which had to be carried out quickly before the Sabbath began at sunset on that Friday.
The Sabbath ended after sunset on Saturday and the shops would have opened then. So the women were able to buy the spices that were used in preparing a body for burial in readiness for the next morning. They wanted to make sure that all the customs and rituals of death were observed to ensure that Jesus was laid reverently to rest.
In this past year there have been many times when we have felt as if we have been kept at a distance when our loved ones have been suffering. We haven’t been allowed to travel to see family and friends when they have been ill, we’ve not been able to visit them in hospital, not able to see those close to us who are in care and nursing homes. We have been kept at a distance even if they were dying, unable to share those last precious days and hours, with no opportunity to make our peace if needed, to bring them comfort and reassure them of our love. We have been unable to observe death as we are used to. There are restrictions on the number able to attend funerals. No singing of hymns. No gathering to share memories and give support to each other, to pay our respects as we feel we should. For some of the year, we were not even able to be in church.
Maybe this year more than ever before we can relate to those women who were watching from a distance.
During Lent we have been studying the teachings and beliefs of the Celtic church. One Celtic form of prayer that can be very comforting is that of the Caim, or encircling prayer. This involves using your index finger to draw a circle around yourself or in your imagination around a loved one as a symbol of God’s encircling love.
As you reflect today, remember the times when you have had to watch from a distance. Be aware that God’s love, care, and protection surround you and those you are praying for (use their names in place of ‘me’ in this prayer).
Circle me Lord
Keep protection near
And danger afar
Circle me Lord
Keep hope within
Keep doubt without
Circle me Lord
Keep light near
And darkness afar
Lord Keep peace within
Keep evil out
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