Grace to you!
May we use the days before the Triduum—the three holiest days in the Holy Week—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. They include Mary of Bethany, Judas, and Peter. I believe that in these characters, we will find ourselves, or at least, a little of ourselves. I hope that focusing on those characters will equip us to assess our place in the Paschal Mystery more profoundly. Today, we will look at Mary; and on Tuesday and Wednesday, Peter and Judas, respectively.
The Gospel of John 12:1-8 reports on 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.
We read the following about the event. "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 Jesus' disciples (the one 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 represented in the New Testament as one who loves the Lord Jesus. Her portrayal is that of a person who sits at the feet of Jesus listening to him (see Luke 10:39). She is presented as a person whose priority was to be at the service of the Lord. Hers is a clear example of the highest adoration—surrendering everything else to be with the Lord, to listen, and to contemplate him.
Mary's love for the Lord spurs her on, and she is ready to give it her all. The costly ointment (worth about one year of average earnings) that she broke open and generously poured at the feet of Jesus was not at all wasteful. Instead, it was a sign of her profound, sacrificial love for Jesus Christ, not to talk of the wiping of the feet of Jesus with her pretty hair.
Let us not see the picture as demeaning to women. Instead, it was the journey of a soul in love with God, 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, and if we must be part of the Paschal Event, we should 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 after Palm Sunday: Is 42:1-7; Jn 12:1-11]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.