Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Epiphany on Mary of Bethany

For the last month or so, I have been wrestling with the story of Mary's anointing of Jesus at Bethany (Mat 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8.) You remember the story. It's six days before Passover, Jesus is eating at the house of a fella called Simon the Leper, and Mary comes in and pours out this expensive pint bottle of perfumed ointment on Jesus. Judas and the other disciples object, stating that the perfume should have been sold and the profit given to the poor. Jesus says that she has done this to prepare his body for burial. So far so good.

Then, Jesus says that wherever the Gospel is preached, what she has done will be told in memory of her.

Now, I have heard sermons on this event as a lesson on lavish worship, but I can't remember the last time I heard a presentation of the Good News in which Mary's gift is mentioned. Can you?

It was the night before Easter Sunday this year that it hit me. (Ow!) I was reading the four Gospels' accounts of the first witnesses to the resurrection. The women are going to the tomb bright and early on Sunday morning because they couldn't travel there on the Sabbath, and wouldn't travel after dark. So, they are going to the tomb... why? To put spices and perfumes on the corpse of Jesus to add to what Joseph of Arimathea had already brought.

Now, here's the kicker. Did the women get to use those spices on Jesus body? Nope. Jesus set his alarm early, and had already risen from the grave.

The only woman who gets to anoint Jesus' body with perfumed ointments or spices? Mary at Bethany a couple weeks earlier! Did she have some sense about the resurrection? Is Jesus implying something about his resurrection when he states that Mary saved this perfume for his burial?

I dunno. But it sure is interesting... well, to me it is.


Diesel said...

Wow, that is interesting. I think you're onto something there.

The Ironic Catholic said...

Yeah, I think that is EXACTLY what's going...the anointing is at minimum a recognition that he is going to die, and she is helping prepare him, and proclaim to us.

A nameless, shamed woman.

Amazing. Only our God, eh?