April 10, 2017
(Monday of Holy Week)
Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him. Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. Jn_12:1-11
Martha, Mary and Lazarus. We hear a lot about them through the Gospel stories. Mary was the one who loved to listen to Jesus: Lk 10:38. Martha the one who truly believed Jesus to be the Christ, the Messiah: Jn 11:27. And Lazarus was their beloved brother who prematurely died and was raised by Jesus: Jn 11:43-44.
Today we hear of Mary’s anointing of Jesus’ feet with a very expensive perfume, and then wiping his feet with her hair. Maybe that sounds a little erotic. But knowing that it was a totally different culture than ours, maybe it was a lot more symbolic than we recognize. Jesus himself noted that Mary was symbolically preparing his body for death. But just imagine the impact on Mary herself. There she was wearing the same fragrance on her hair and hands that Jesus was wearing battered and broken on the cross, an eternal reminder of her union with her Lord. What a beautiful sign!
And when we investigate, just a little more, this oil that Mary was using, nard, we come to find that not only was it a fragrant perfume, but it was also a healing remedy for many bodily ills. Just maybe, Mary was trying to soothe some pretty nasty discomfort on the feet of the one who walked hundreds of miles healing and comforting others. Just maybe, there was a whole lot more to Mary’s action than first meets the eye.
We really can learn a lot about true devotion through these people who were some of Jesus’ best friends. Especially about our own craving for valuable things that might be better given to others who could really use them: one of the small tidbits of philosophy that Jesus came to teach us.
As we prepare for reliving in our hearts the passion and death of our Lord this week, it might be good for us to see what it is in our own lives that we’re clinging to a little too tightly, and let it go, as we let in a little more of our Lord! Something that will connect us to Him, just as that perfume did for Mary! The sweet fragrance of generosity. The sweet aroma of Love!
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