There are a number of minor characters who appear in the Passion narratives in all four gospels. They seldom get much attention. So this Lent I want to try to see these invisible people of the Passion and imagine events through their eyes.

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.’ So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. (Mark 16:1-8)

I am the less famous Salome in the story.

The other Salome appeared near the beginning of the stories about Jesus.

She was the daughter of Herodias. Herodias had been married to Herod II, her half-uncle. But Herodias divorced Herod II and married Herod Antipas instead. When John the Baptist criticized the marriage, Herodias used her daughter Salome to convince Herod Antipas to execute John.

It is a terrible violent story. It is not a story I want to be associated with at all. But my story is not without its shame I must admit.

I hadn’t slept all night. The terrible events of that horrible day had burned themselves into my consciousness. I had been there with the other women when Jesus was nailed to that cross. I had watched from a distance as the Roman soldiers did their work. I had wept and wailed as the beautiful life drained out of his body.

Then I had waited with the other women through that long silent sabbath day.

We knew where they had taken his body. But we could not go to him. To carry linens and spices through the streets on the sabbath is viewed as work by our faith. Work is forbidden on the sabbath even to honour the dead. So we bore the pain of that long despairing day and endured the tedious sleepless night that followed.

At the first sign of light in the early morning, we walked outside the city to the garden where Jesus had been placed in Joseph’s tomb. It is hard to know exactly what we were thinking. The tomb had been sealed with a great stone. Soldiers had been placed on guard to protect the body.

Even if we could convince the soldiers to let us try, we knew we could not roll the stone away from the mouth of the tomb.

But we had to do something. We could not just sit still knowing that Jesus’ body had been so hastily buried without the proper honours due to any person who has died.

When we got to the garden, we could not begin to comprehend what we found. There were no soldiers and the stone had rolled away from the mouth of the tomb. We stood in the cold morning air, huddled in a little group. We held on to each other shuddering with fear trying to make sense of the scene.

We edged closer to the tomb. We expected it to be dark inside. But there was a glow from deep inside. As terrified as we were, we stepped over the groove where the stone had been rolled to seal the tomb and went in.

There was a young man sitting where the dead body should have been. But there was no body, just the empty grave clothes in which Jesus’ body had been hastily wrapped before his burial.

The light we had seen from outside the tomb came from the young man. His body glowed as if it were lit from the inside. He said we should not be afraid. He told us that Jesus had been raised from the dead and that we should go and tell his disciples that they would see him in Galilee.

This is where the shameful part of the story comes. We ran from that tomb in terror. We knew something much bigger than we had ever experienced had happened here. We had no way to understand what had taken place. We could find no words to express the news we had been instructed to share.

We are only women. No one takes women seriously, especially when they come with wild hysterical tales of dead bodies being raised to be seen again by those who had loved him when he was alive. So we kept our secret. We never said a word. We waited and we watched. Then others who had been Jesus’ followers began to tell the story we knew to be true.

After the stories had been going around for three days, we saw him ourselves.

At first, we felt ashamed we had not told. But when he appeared, all shame and doubt disappeared. There did not seem to be any place left for regret or shame. There was only light, purity and truth.

Since those resurrection days, his light has only grown stronger in our lives. The love he gave us has deepened and grown more real with each passing day.

Often I think of the other Salome, the one whose life was lived out in the palaces of the rich and famous. I feel sad for her. I pray that she may know that there is a power in life that is much greater than all the strategies of the kings and armies that fill her world.

I pray that everyone may come to know that there is no reason to live any longer in shame or fear. The power of love has conquered death. Jesus was raised to new life. He lives now in every heart that opens to the way of love and truth which he embodied in his life and which he set free to reign in the world through his death and resurrection.