Holy Week: Monday: Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus




A man's feet, a woman's hands and hair, the wetness of expensive perfume. What's that all about? What's going on?This photo illustrates the following story from John's Gospel:

"Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped him with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?" (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, "Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me." " John 12: 1 - 11
Last year I posted 'What is Love Like?' as a reflection on this story. I've re-visted that today and here's my latest version of that reflection.

The 5 Senses of Love: A Holy Week Reflection

(Adapted from earlier posts.)

What does love look like?


Love looks shocking
when it breaks rules
as when Mary of Bethany
rubbed perfume on a rabbi's feet
and dried them with her hair
- in public.
Love looks shocking
when it wastes expensive perfume
that could be used for something better.
Love looks shocking
when it gives,
extravagantly gives,
even to pouring out life itself
so others may live. 

What does love feel like?


Love feels hurtful
to those rejected,
excluded
from its embrace.

Love feels good
when received
like a baby
safe in its parents' care,
or like a lover
relaxing in the arms of the beloved.

Love feels good for Jesus
as Mary's perfume
refreshes his feet
and its fragrance fills the room.

What does love sound like?


Love sounds
to Judas like 300 coins,
a year's wages
spilling to the ground,
rolling away and lost,
- an extravagant waste.
Love sounds
to Jesus
like the sound of friends,
of tears and laughter,
of music
and companionable silence.

What does love taste like?


Love tastes bitter
to those hurt
by those who should have loved.
Love tastes sour
when corrupted
by abuse and exploitation.

Love tastes good
to Jesus,
like the best food and drink,
prepared with care,
beautifully served
and shared.
Love tastes of friendship,
in the house of Lazarus.
Love tastes of family
and belonging.

What does love smell like?


Love smells
of expensive perfume
filling the house,
permeating the nostrils
with joy
creating memories of intimacy,
and
for Jesus
evoking thoughts
of his coming death and burial.


If you would like to read another reflection on this story, I recommend 'Lavish Love' on RevRuth's Images of Lent website.

Image Credit: Free Bible Images

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