As Holy Week begins, today’s gospel brings us to a meal in Bethany honoring Jesus after the resurrection of Lazarus. Raising Lazarus from the dead is the great sign in John’s Gospel for understanding the death and resurrection of Jesus. He came to bring life through his own death and resurrection. (John 12,1-11) This is his last meal before the Passover supper, his arrest, death and resurrection.
Martha serves the meal. Lazarus newly alive, is at the table. But the one drawing most attention is their sister Mary. Sensing what’s coming, she kneels before Jesus and anoints his feet with precious oil and dries them with her hair. “And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.”
The precious oil, signifying her love and gratitude, also anoints Jesus for his burial. Our gospel makes only a passing reference to evil: Judas, “the one who would betray him,” complains that the anointing is a waste, but his voice is silenced. Believers honor the one they love.
Lazarus is the brother of us all who “sit in the shadow of death.” Mary represents us all.
An artist friend of mine painted this picture of Mary anointing Jesus. How fitting that Holy Week begins with this gospel when we’re called to follow Mary and kneel and pour out the oil of our love on him whose life was poured out for us.
“May the holy cross of our good Jesus be ever planted in our hearts so that our souls may be grafted onto this tree of life and by the infinite merits of the death of the Author of life we may produce worthwhile fruits of penance.” (St. Paul of the Cross,Letter 11)
Let my prayer rise up before you like incense,
The raising of my hands like an evening offering. Ps 141
We thank you with Mary of Bethany for your love and your promise of life. May we love you in return and believe in your promise.
Morning and Evening Prayer here.
Children’s Prayers here.
Dear Father Victor, as Holy Week begins I want to thank you for translating sacred words into a way of life. It has made for a beautiful Lenten Journey and beyond. And thank you too for sharing the beautiful painting of the anointing with us. It is very inspirational. Where can we find more of Duk Soon Fwang’s work?
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Thanks for your kind words. You can find a video about Duk Soon Fwang here.https://youtu.be/0blrDrCKPtY
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