It’s Wednesday of Holy Week. Last year I discovered it’s also known as “Spy Wednesday.” Today I did a bit of research and found it is also the day that the following episode occurred, as written about in the book of John.
“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.Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, ‘Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?’ He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions.
So Jesus said, ‘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.'” John 3:3-8
With an intimacy and humility almost beyond imagining, Mary anoints Jesus’ feet and then wipes them with her hair.
She gives him something precious. Not just the oil, which is indeed costly. Something costs her much more than this.
It costs her something to kneel before Him. It costs her something to lavishly spill the oil, not worrying about how messy it is, about what Martha will say when she has to clean it up. It costs her something to literally let her hair fall, covering him and uncovering everything about her.
She is loving Him unabashedly. She is not ashamed to love him. She is not embarrassed by her tears. She gives all to him – the messiness of her sins, her broken humanity – and asks only that He forgive her, and allow her to serve.
It is almost Good Friday. Then we will recall that Jesus gave all for us as He died on the Cross. Can we try to love him more completely? Can we “poor out” the expensive oil that we are holding on to? Can we be unafraid to “fill the house with fragrance” – to let everyone know of our love? Can we “let our hair down” and reveal all to Him? He already knows everything about us. But He wants us to give of ourselves freely – He will not steal our love from us.
Place yourself in the place of Mary of Bethany today. Tomorrow, you can join her as she remains in the background alongside Martha, serving Jesus, preparing His last meal. On Friday, you, with Mary, will cling tightly to Jesus’ Mother as you stand at the foot of the Cross. On Saturday, you will weep and hide and wonder how it can be that He is gone.
And on Sunday morning, He will come to you. Before all others, He will stand at your side and remind you of His promises.
Begin today by following Mary’s example. Give Him your love.