“Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.” – John 12:3
Mary demonstrated a love toward Jesus that is uninhibited and breaks social conventions. According to Judas, she used expensive oil costing more than a year’s wage. To him, her dramatic expression is rather wasteful.
Yet, her extravagant act is coupled with a profound humility. She went down on her knees and dried Jesus’ feet with her hair … tenderly. Her unabashed expression of love must have puzzled some people in the room, and made others uncomfortable.
However, Jesus defends her, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me” (verses 7-8). He accepted her love, humbly and extravagantly shown.
This Holy Week invites us to enter more deeply the love of God which Mary foreshadows. The readings reveal Jesus who embraces denials and betrayals by his closest friends (tomorrow and Wednesdays); Jesus who humbles himself to wash our feet – the dirtiest part of ourselves (Holy Thursday); Jesus who sacrifices his life on the cross – entering our greatest darkness – to save us (Good Friday); Jesus who calls people to baptism and deeper faith (Holy Saturday); Jesus whose Resurrection brings us to greater hope and trust (Easter Sunday).
It is not easy for many of us to accept a love so lavished and seemingly wasteful. Going to Mass several times this week (especially Thursday–Saturday), praying the Rosary, showing love in quiet and sacrificial ways will help us enter the drama of God’s extravagant and humbled love in Jesus.
“Jesus, help me to embrace your passion and your love more fully this week.”