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Thoughts for the Wednesday in Holy Week

A Day of waiting

The Wednesday in Holy Week

Mark 14 v 1-10

Jesus was in the house of a man called Simon the leper in the village of Bethany.

A person with leprosy would have been regarded as unclean and untouchable. But to Jesus, Simon mattered. He was even willing to eat with such a so-called outcast.

Imagine the scene. Jesus, along with others was eating , reclining on a low couch, resting on his left elbow, using his right hand to take their food. Anyone who came up to him, as this woman did, would be standing well above him. She came with a container full of ointment. Now, it was the custom to pour a few drops of perfume on a guest when he arrived to eat. St Marks tells us that in this case the ointment was nard – coming from a rare Indian plant. But it wasn’t just a few drops she poured on his head – she broke the flask and anointed him with the contents.

Why did she do that?  Jesus read a great deal into her actions.

It was the custom in the East first to bathe and then anoint the bodies of the dead. After the body had been anointed, the flask in which the perfume had been contained was broken. No wonder Jesus saw in the woman’s actions a sign post to his impending crucifixion.

What a waste – his followers complained. The flask was worth more than 300 Denarii – a years wages. Better to have spent the money on the poor. But Jesus understood.

You can help the poor at anytime. But you haven’t got long now to do anything for me – again he was seeing the woman’s actions as prefiguring the anointing of his body for burial.

Essentially this story is all about love.

Jesus saw that this woman had done a lovely thing. The Greek word used is KALOS – it means a thing not only morally good, but lovely- full of generosity, kindness, real love. Her action was one of the last kind deeds that Jesus had done to him. In such sharp contrast to the cruel torture he was soon to have to endure.

The love she showed was extravagant. She gave all she had – she didn’t calculate how little she could get away with. There was a recklessness in her love which refused to count the cost.

The love she showed was spontaneous – she didn’t hesitate. Maybe sometimes we are moved to do something good and loving, but hold back.  Too shy, too awkward. It might be in the simplest of things – the impulse to send a letter, to tell someone how much we appreciate them. The world would be a much lovelier place if there were more people like this woman who acted on the impulse of her love. How that last, extravagant kindness must have lifted Jesus’ heart.

Finally, we can note one more thing from the story. Once again we see the invincible confidence of Jesus. The cross loomed ahead now – but he never believed the cross woujld be the end. He knew that good news would go around the world. And with the good news there went the story of this lovely act, done with love’s extravagance, done on the impulse of the moment, coming from a heart overflowing with love.

* The above picture is by Peter Paul Rubens

April 20, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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