While the Holy Apostles cowered behind closed doors "for fear of the Jews," the Noble Joseph fearlessly approached Pilate to claim the body of Jesus, which he took down from the Cross, wrapped in fine linen and placed in a rock hewn tomb. Finally he rolled a large boulder to seal the entrance. What courage, faith and devotion Joseph demonstrates, while those who had been most intimate with our Lord over the course of His three year mission are seemingly paralyzed by depression and a loss of hope.
The Myrrhbearing Women likewise seek to fulfill their service of love, rising early in the morning to anoint the body of our Lord with sweet smelling spices--though the whole situation does at the moment seem hopeless. Besides--"Who shall roll us away the stone?" the grieving women ask. Nevertheless, they persist in completing their self-appointed task--and a moment later, their persistence is rewarded. As soon as they raise their eyes from the earth and behold the tomb, they are astonished to see that the stone has already been rolled aside--not by any human agency, but rather by the power of God Himself. Even more incredible, an angel reveals to the women that Christ has indeed arisen, just as he foretold.
Now this stone can also symbolize our own unbelief and spiritual blindness. We profess to believe, joyously proclaiming, "Christ is risen!", yet too often our attitude and behavior would seem to suggest that our Lord still lies in the tomb, that despite the words of the angel, we persist in seeking the living among the dead. On one level we believe, but on a deeper level, His death and Resurrection seem to have had no significant impact on our everyday lives.
So we too might ask, "Who shall roll away the stone?", because it is indeed--from our human perspective--very large and immovable. The answer is, of course, that it is God alone Who can roll away the stone of our unbelief. But if this is to occur, we must--like the Myrrhbearing Women--set aside our sorrow and despair, persisting to fulfill our own service of love toward God and our fellow man. Only then shall God roll away the stone from our passionate, hardened hearts that we might behold the empty tomb and receive the promise of eternal life in the heavenly Kingdom.