Today, we find ourselves in Bethany, where Lazarus, Martha and Mary are giving a supper for Jesus (https://universalis.com/mass.htm).
Mary’s anointing mirrors ancient burial rites; when she anoints the feet of Jesus, she does so with reverence and great devotion. She spares no expense and stands in front of Jesus in a humble attitude of service. In only three days, the Lord will gird Himself with a towel and wash, as a servant, the feet of His disciples. Mary's action today contrasts that of Judas who, under the pretext of helping the poor, “conceals the selfishness and falsehood of a person closed into himself, shackled by the greed for possession and who does not let the good fragrance of divine love envelop him” (Pope Benedict XVI). The attitude of Judas is calculating and his mindset is narrow, unable to fathom the total love and dedication he could see in front of him. Our Lord can no longer be silent and defends Mary: "Leave her alone; she had to keep this scent for the day of my burial. You have the poor with you always, you will not always have me." Mary feels God's immense love and her action points out at the final hour of Jesus which is approaching; the hour when Jesus will make Himself "obedient, unto death, even death on a cross" (Phil 2: 8) – in the words we heard duting Mass yesterday, on Palm Sunday.
St. Augustin writes: "Whatever soul of you wishes to be truly faithful, anoint like Mary the feet of the Lord with precious ointment.... Anoint the feet of Jesus: follow by a good life the Lord's footsteps. Wipe them with your hair: what you have of superfluity, give to the poor, and you have wiped the feet of the Lord." (In Ioh. evang., 50, 6).
By Fr Tomas
Illustration by Jan Hearn ©