Holy Week Reflection No. 3

"Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at the table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, 'Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.'" As we draw nearer to the cross we find Jesus reclined at the supper-table of a weepy-skinned leper. Jesus, God-with-us, is feasting with the unclean. These are the broken ones, and he knows that he will soon salve their spiritual sores by way of sacrifice. There is a palpable tension as a humble woman approaches Jesus and anoints him with an extravagant gift.

See her hoping to bring him joy? See her wasting her possessions in praise?

See the disciples lost in the orthopraxy of the moment. They are the ones who have walked too many dusty roads with Jesus, who have seen him befriend the sinner, the poor, the leper. And after all, what was the proof that Jesus was the Messiah? He had cited the prophets, said that he was anointed "to proclaim good news to the poor...." (See Luke 4:18.)

"Anyway," the disciples may have thought, "why waste the perfume for the dead on the Messiah who is alive?"

What if the disciples' chiding was founded in right-thinking and zealous admiration? What if it was from genuine concern, from a deep-seated love for the poor and broken among them? Even still, they missed the nuance of the moment.

Here came the lowly, turning her affections to Jesus, savior, a dead man walking. And in that moment, she turned her thoughts to him only.

"But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, 'Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it it to prepare me for burial. 'Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.'"

 

Question: Have you become so fixated on the good works of the gospel that you've forgotten the praise-worthy Messiah? Have given yourself to defense of the oppressed without praising first the Christ of the oppressed?

*Scripture taken from Matthew 26:6-13.

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Photo by nick@ via Creative Commons.