“And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week they went to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they were saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?’ And looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back…” (Mk 16: 1-4)
How utterly useless are the spices, brought to Christ’s tomb by these insignificant, poor women. But here’s the thing: “…God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” (1 Cor 1: 27-29) So, we cherish the memory of these women, who also happened to be the first, - the very first, - to receive the world-changing news of the Resurrection.
I know, we live in a world in which “usefulness” and practicality seem to own the day; where degrees in music or literature seem “useless” or even laughable, because they don’t immediately satisfy the temporal objectives of our visible world. And yet, we sense the value of the practically “useless”: Our hearts are warmed by the “useless” kindness of a smile, or by the gift of flowers that will soon wilt, or by the poetry of a sunset shared with our beloved, or – for those of us who are church-goers – the consolation of our local church, in which sacred space is practically “useless” outside the Liturgy. We also continue to shower money and attention on our most talented artists, musicians, and even athletes, - because somehow, the “useless” is cherished above all, as much as we hate to admit that.
Let me cherish the “useless” today, because God sends it to me “so that no one may boast before Him.” He teaches me love and humility through these things, which lift me up from my own rationality and practicality, and “roll away the stone” from my limited vision of the visible. Glory be to Him, Who defies my plans and rationale, and takes my breath away, in His glorious Resurrection. Christ is risen!