Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. (John 12: 1-3. NRSV).
Our journey through Holy Week that began yesterday with Palm Sunday, brings us to this scene in St. John’s Gospel. These scene changes may be a bit confusing. Yesterday we were with those welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem while laying Palms along his path. Today we are with Martha, Mary and Lazarus at a dinner in which Mary anoints the feet of Jesus in preparation for his death and burial.
We could say that Mary is giving us a preview of the scene at the Last Supper at which Jesus will wash the feet of His Disciples. Mary could be doing for Jesus, what will not be done for Him at that Passover meal.
Whatever the reason, Mary performs an amazing act of faith and love towards Jesus. Unlike Judas who is there criticizing Mary for using the costly perfume; Mary is caring for Jesus’ very limited time. She loves Jesus with a holy love and prepares His feet for the holy journey towards our redemption in Christ. Mary exercised the greatest example of hospitality towards Jesus as she allowed the guest that is Jesus to draw her into a deeper experience of faith in Him.
In The Rule of Saint Benedict, Chapter 53 he wrote:
All guests should be received as Christ, for he will say “I was a stranger and you took me in” (Matt 25:35).
Our point of contemplation today is to allow Christ in the guest to speak to and serve us. This is as counter cultural as we can get. We like to believe we have all the answers for the other. In our electronic age of sending every message that inflates our ego should be sent; Mary and Saint Benedict invite us reach out for the guest, but open our hearts to Christ in the other. To allow their lives and their stories to deliver a new message of love and conversion to our own hearts and minds. In so doing, we open ourselves up to knowing God on a whole new level from God’s point of view.
What might God be saying to you through the thoughts and actions of another?
Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB