From Fr. Alexander Schmemann’s The Celebration of Faith: The Church Year:
“…One day later, after the sabbath, at dawn on the third day, the same women came to the grave, in keeping with the custom of that time, to anoint the dead body with aromatic spices. And it was precisely to them that the risen Christ first appeared. They were the first to hear from him that “rejoice” which forever afterwards became the essense of Christian strength. Christ had not revealed the mystery of the future to these women, as He did to the twelve chosen apostles. They knew neither the meaning of his death nor the mystery of his approaching victory in the resurrection. For them, the death of their teacher and friend was simply death, the end; even worse, it was a terrible and shameful death, a terrible and abrupt end. They stood at the Cross only because they loved Jesus, and in loving him, suffered with him, They did not leave his poor, tortured body, but did all that love has always done at final separation.
Those whom Christ had asked to stay with him at the hour of his agonizing struggle, when He “began to be greatly distressed and troubled” (Mk. 14:33), dropped him, ran away and renounced him. But those from whom He asked nothing remained faithful in their simple human love. “Mary stood weeping outside the tomb” (Jn. 20:11). Down through the centuries, love has always wept in this way, as Christ wept at the grave of his friend Lazarus….”