On this Sunday, as we move ever closer to Holy Week and the story of the cross, we find ourselves in the home of Jesus’ friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Just a few days before his arrest Jesus comes to spend time with his dearest friends in Bethany, where Martha prepares a festive dinner party. Just a week earlier Lazarus had been raised from the dead, which must have made for some very interesting dinner party conversation! Yet this very miracle had sealed Jesus fate, and his enemies are circling, seeking to trap him. The Gospel story tells us that Jesus has set his face toward Jerusalem, or he knows what’s coming at him, even though those around him don’t want to see or recognise it.
The real focus of this story today is Mary and her response to Jesus in these difficult days. As danger begins to swirl around them, and as Jesus’ enemies begin to close in, she offers an extravagant gift of love, anointing him with expensive perfumed ointment. For this Jesus, her dearest friend, only the very best and most precious gift will do. She of all of the gathered disciples understands the meaning behind the moment, perhaps she is the only one who sees what lies ahead, and she responds with great love and gratitude. In her symbolic act of pouring the costliest perfume on Jesus’ feet, she honours him and reveals her deep love and gratitude.
As Lent winds down and Holy Week approaches, we are reminded that in the coming weeks the whole order of things will be mixed up and turned on its head. We will see the worst the world can offer unleashed as the forces of darkness close in. But ahead of us too, right out of the ashes of despair, lies the real possibility of joy.
In peace, Mother Lynda
Gospel Reading: John 12:1-8