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Serving Christ Our God and Our Church

Icon by the hand of Janet JaimeIcon by the hand of Janet Jaimeby Violet K. Robbat, The Word, May 2015

When the Angel Gabriel informed Mary that she had been chosen to be the Mother of Christ, Mary, because of her faith and obedience to God, responded with, "Behold the Maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38).

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to visit His friends Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. He stayed and had supper with them. Martha prepared the meal and served Jesus, while her sister "took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair" (John 12:3). With their many gifts, Martha and Mary served Christ, each in her own way.

After Jesus was crucified and was buried, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went to the tomb of Christ with spices to anoint His body, as was the Jewish custom of that time. They found that Christ's body was no longer in the tomb. Instead, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe. He told them to go to Jesus's disciples and tell them that He had risen. The women were frightened and quickly left the tomb, telling no one. "Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept" (Mark 16:9–10).

In the Summer 2011 issue of the DIAKONIA (the newsletter of the Antiochian Women of North America), Metropolitan Joseph (then Archbishop Joseph), our Hierarchical Overseer, wrote about the Antiochian Women and their spirituality, stating, "This spirituality of the Antiochian Women, I believe, is inspired in part by the example of the Myrrh-bearing Women, who rose early on  the third day to anoint the Body of Christ. They sought to serve their Lord, and in this simple act of charity were the first to proclaim the Resurrection."

When he addressed us at one of our meetings, Metropolitan Joseph once again made reference to the Myrrh-bearing Women. He stated, "When everyone left our Lord Jesus Christ alone on the cross, the women were there; you are the Myrrh-bearing Women." These words, denoting these blessed women who were there to minister to Christ in death, just as they had during His life, were extremely humbling.

Today, the Antiochian Women follow in the footsteps of these women from both the Old and New Testament: "Ruth, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachael, the Virgin Mary, the ointment bearers, the deaconesses and many others who ministered to the Church and to Christ and were instruments of His Divine purpose in history" (Metropolitan Philip, Archdiocese Convention, Los Angeles, California, 1972).

The women mentioned above, and so many more who labored in His Vineyard, are examples for all of us to emulate today. Through our faith, love and works of charity, the Antiochian Women strive to give of themselves by being true to Christ our God, and to our Church, as expressed in this excerpt from our Antiochian Women's prayer:

"Oh Christ our God,
we are all pledged to serve Thee with our whole being.
Help us to continue to work for Thee through our Church,
without seeking praise,
without seeking personal gain,
without judging others,
without a feeling that we have worked hard enough
and now must allow ourselves rest."

The Antiochian Women hold this prayer close to their hearts, as can be observed through their actions on the Parish, Diocesan and Archdiocesan levels. They give of themselves not because they feel obligated, or because they are expected to do so, but willingly, because they have pledged to serve Christ and the Church with their heart and soul. We, the Antiochian Women, are truly "a Sisterhood Serving Christ Through Serving Others," all for the Glory of God.

Violet K. Robbat
President, Antiochian Women North American Board