Grace to you!
I would like to use the days before the three holiest days in the Holy Week (the Triduum), to situate ourselves within the events of the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Paschal Mystery). To do so, I would want for us to look at three of the prominent characters during the entire drama leading up to the crucifixion, namely Mary of Bethany, Judas and Peter. I believe that in these characters we will find ourselves, or a little of ourselves too. By so doing, we will be equipped to assess our place in the Paschal Mystery. Today, we will look at Mary, and on Tuesday and Wednesday, Peter and Judas.
The Gospel of John 12:1-8 tells about the event of the anointing of the feet of Jesus by Mary of Bethany. Mary is the sister of Martha and Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead. The anointing took place at Martha’s house during a supper.
According to the account, “Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” (Jn 12:3-5).
Mary is consistently presented in the bible as one who loves the Lord. One who sits at the feet of the Lord listening to him (see Luke 10:39). She is one who takes the Lord as a priority. Hers is a clear example of highest adoration—surrendering everything else so as to be with the Lord, to listen and to contemplate him. In Mary we see a true Christian piety and virtuous commitment to the Lord.
Mary’s love for the Lord urges her on. She gives it her all. The costly ointment she generously poured at the feet of Jesus was worth about one year of average earnings at the time. It wasn’t a wasteful venture. Rather, it was a sign of her deep, sacrificial love for the Lord. Relate this also to the tender affection with which she wipes the dusty feet of Jesus with her pretty hair. Such an unusual affection reveals her deep love for the Lord.
Let us not see the picture as demeaning to women. Instead, it was the journey of a soul in love with God. She was a person inspired to offer to her love everything. For love, we can give everything and for pure love, every other value we have becomes secondary.
Holy Week is a time to reciprocate love. It’s a time to be like Mary of Bethany in giving the Lord the core of our affection, our love. Mary captures the true sense of worship. If we are to be part of the Paschal Mystery in the most enriching way, we have to follow in her footsteps.
Pray: Lord, may we love you so much as to give it our all. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Monday, Holy Week C: Is 42:1-7; Jn 12:1-11]
Father Maurice Emelu, Ph.D., provides a daily blog of reflections for the season of Lent your individual spiritual edification. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations. .