And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices…
The complexion of our religious thought depends upon the view we take of death. This life is but the foreground of that which is to come, and death is the narrow bridge upon which we pass from one state of existence to another; or, rather, it is our initiation into the hidden mysteries of the future. The initiatory ceremony is attended with some pain, it is true; but, as in ancient times, when a king wished to raise a brave man to knighthood, he struck him lightly with a sword, and then pronounced him noble: even so, death is but the soft sword touch by which the Eternal King elevates His faithful servant to the knight-errantry of heaven. There is, in the German, a beautiful fable which represents the angel of slumber wandering over the earth in company with the angel of death. As the evening draws near they approach a village and encamp upon one of its hills, listening to the curfew as it tolls the knell of parting day. At last the sounds cease, profound silence reigns round about, and the dark mantle of night covers the earth. Now the angel of sleep rises from her bed of moss, and, stepping forward to the brink of the height, silently scatters the unseen seeds of slumber. The evening wind noiselessly wafts them out over the habitations of weary men. Sweet sleep settles down upon all the inhabitants of the village, and overcomes them all, from the old man who nods in his chair to the infant resting in its cradle. The sick forget their pain; the afflicted their anguish: even poverty is oblivious of its wants. All eyes are closed. After her task has been performed, the angel of slumber turns to her sister and says: "When the morning sun appears, all these people will praise me as their benefactor and friend. How delightful it is to go about doing good so silently and all unseen! What a beautiful calling we have!" Thus spoke the angel of sleep; but the angel of death gazed upon her in silent sorrow, and a tear, such as the undying shed, stood in her eye. "Alas!" said she, "I cannot rejoice like you in the gratitude of men. The earth calls me its enemy, and the destroyer of its peace." "O my sister," replied the angel of slumber, "at the great awakening of the resurrection morning the souls of the blessed will recognize you as their friend and benefactor. Are we not sisters, and the messengers of our common Father?" They ceased to speak, but the eyes of the death angel glistened with tears as they both fled out into the darkness of the night.
(A. J. Parry.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.