Isaiah 42:1-7; Psalm 26(27):1-3,13-14; John 12:1-11
For holy week, there is so much to ponder on - one has to make a focus each year on one thing. One approach is to focus on a character in the drama that is the Holy Week Liturgy. One might for example choose Mary, who anoints Jesus in pure Nard - the most expensive of perfumes, but also one used in the preparation of a body for the tomb. Mary was previously seen listening to Jesus's words while her sister was busy organising the meal and household and you will recall the dispute between them which Jesus resolved by saying 'Mary has chosen the better part'. You will also find Mary at the foot of the cross with Mary the Mother of Jesus, and only one male disciple (John). And gloriously, Mary was one of the first to hear the good news that Jesus had risen. This approach to Holy week requires an attention on the character chosen, and to follow in their footsteps, recognising how their emotions are matched by ours through this time. Set aside some time to ponder each day on one step of his or her way.
Today: Jesus arrives at our home, travelling from the Temple where he has been battling in intellectual conflict with the Temple authorities - high priests and scribes - who would not listen to him. The conversation had got ugly, and they were now plotting to have Jesus killed. Our home is a place of refuge for Jesus, and our sister Mary perhaps recognising that the future for Jesus was going to involve his torture and death, can not wait to receive his body for its funeral, but anoints him now. She anoints his feet - a slaves' job was to wash the feet of guests on arrival at our home - and uses her own hair - her symbol of love and beauty sacrificed in a public self-humiliation. We are in awe of her actions, and failing to understand we might make clumsy suggestions about the value of the wasted oil and how in the practical world we live in better use of that resource might be made.
But Mary has chosen the better part, and will follow Jesus through this week - as must we. Let us sit with her in her grief and allow the scent of her actions to fill our hearts.