Monday in Holy Week: John 12:1-11
We continue the journey that is Holy Week, after the Palm and Passion observances, witnessing an act of singular devotion. We see Mary anointing Jesus’ feet and wiping them with her hair. It happened in Bethany but whether it was at the home of Lazarus, as John relates or that of Simon the Leper, in Matthew and Mark’s versions, is unknown. And in Mark and Matthew, it is an unnamed woman(often surmised as a prostitute or even Mary of Magdala, in her forgiven state)and she anoints Jesus’ head. Each version provides ‘recorded’ reaction from Judas, as well as commentary on his character, and we hear that well known verse “You always have the poor with you”. But let’s return to Mary, as John tells the story…
We’ve met her before, this Mary, sister of Lazarus and Martha; she who sat at our Lord’s feet and listened to his every word(and drove her busy sister to distraction in the process!).
That she was a disciple of Jesus is clear, even if she didn’t make the list. That she loved Jesus is illustrated in this intimate act, an act that anticipates His death, anticipates the need for the anointing of His body in the rites of death, and perhaps anticipates the anointing of a King. “Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair.” In the midst of a likely noisy meal, was there a pause, a moment of silence? Did they all breathe in that heavy fragrance? Did they all hear Judas’ condemnation, “Why wasn’t this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” Did they all hear Jesus say “Leave her alone.”? Did she look into His eyes? Did she weep, knowing with inner wisdom that the way ahead was a way of sorrows?
The scriptures do not say…
But, if we had been there, would we have agreed with Judas or would our eyes have filled with tears and love, as we sat at the Master’s feet? And now, today, in this time of self-isolation, of global pandemic, of uncertainty, how can we show our love for our Lord? How can we witness to His life in us?