Across the 4 gospels, only 8 followers of Jesus are specifically mentioned as being present at His death. Debate as to whether a few of the given names refer to the same person reduces this number to 5 people. 4 of these are women: Mary – Jesus’ mother, Mary Magdalene, Salome and another Mary. The last is named only as ‘the disciple whom [Jesus] loved’ (John 19:26) – though this is often taken to mean John. At the point when nearly all of the disciples and the majority of those who had identified as supportive of Jesus during His three years of teaching had deserted him, these women refused to succumb to fear and remained on Calvary as Jesus breathed His last breath.
The fact that Peter’s fear of being arrested caused him to deny Jesus three times shows us that identifying as a follower of Jesus at that point was extremely unsafe! Yet still the women stayed. It’s true that as women it may have been slightly more acceptable for them to be there than the men – at least in the eyes of the Roman soldiers charged with the crucifixion – but that doesn’t detract from the courage and commitment it would have taken for the women to stand their ground.
Over this Easter Triduum, let’s stand our ground and remain with Christ. Take advantage of the invaluable opportunities to sit in His presence in front of the altar of repose, be with Him at 3pm on Good Friday, rejoice at His resurrection on Easter Sunday, and most of all proclaim the Good News of His sacrifice to anyone and everyone around us – even in the simplest of actions. Let’s be faithful to the end.
May we remember this Easter that choosing to identify as followers of Christ is not about our own fears or insecurities, but about the man who gave His life to take them away.