John 12.1-11: Anointing at Bethany
In today's Gospel we hear the account of Mary of Bethany anointing Jesus' feet with an ointment of pure nard. The oil she used for anointing was worth hundred denarii, an equivalent of nearly a year's wages for a worker.
Mary’s gesture could have been read as little indulgent and wasteful - as it indeed was by Judas. But Judas completely missed the point. What he didn’t realise was that Mary possessed a deeper understanding of who Jesus was. While Judas, obsessed with money, was constantly calculating benefits and losses, Mary was responding to Christ’s presence with all candour of her heart.
She worshipped him with all she had, without worrying about finances or about what would others think of her or how they would judge her. Her strange and unusual action was an expression of her love for Jesus. Love was all that mattered there.
What she did focused the attention of everyone present in the room on Jesus which then allowed him to speak of his impending death. Mary’s worship pointed towards the sheer extravagance of God’s love we discover in the Cross and Passion of Christ.
Is it very fitting that we hear this story at the start of Holy Week as it reminds us about that one essential thing it would be good for us to discover afresh as we journey towards Easter – the love of God revealed to us in Christ Jesus.
As we spend this Holy Week confined to our homes, not being able to worship in church buildings, perhaps today we could think of a few creative ways in which we can imitate Mary’s action and worship Christ in our homes?
How can we be a little bit more generous and even extravagant in showing our love for him? We read in the gospel that ‘the house was full of the scent of the ointment’. How can we make our houses smell of love?
Perhaps there is someone we haven’t paid enough attention to? Someone we love and care for but in all the hassle and bustle of life have almost forgotten about? If that person happen to live with us, perhaps we could spend more quality time together, forgetting about what distracts us from love (e.g. arguments about who is right or wrong, finances, etc.) and really focusing on each other instead? Or if we cannot meet with them in person, perhaps a phone call or a skype conversation could be arranged? Can we, by our actions, show to others how much they matter to us and to God?
May this Holy Week be a time of discovery of what really matters in our lives while so much of what we normally take from granted is no longer available to us.
Jesus, our Saviour and Friend, teach us how to love one other as you have loved us.