“Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment.” (John 12:3)
What a beautiful and intimate scene we are allowed a glimpse of in today’s Gospel, Mary anointing the feet of Jesus. Foot washing was a common show of hospitality in Biblical days, but Mary takes it one step further by anointing Jesus’ feet with pure nard. Nard was a very expensive spice, the cost of which was close to an entire year’s wages. Mary could have saved this extravagant ointment to use on herself, or, as Judas so bluntly points out, she could have sold it for a great deal of money. But there is no room in her mind for anything but Jesus, and so she pours this precious gift out on His feet.
Holy Week has begun, and in just a few days we will celebrate the passion and death of Jesus. We have spent all of Lent preparing ourselves for this by practicing penance and fasting. But somehow after reading today’s Gospel, my penances seem a little weak. Mary gave up an entire year's income, and I gave up chocolate.
Sometimes it takes this stark contrast to remind myself that Lent is not just about giving up a food group that I enjoy. It’s about giving up my entire self. Having a penance like no dessert or no TV is a good way to remind myself to think about Jesus’ sacrifice, or to make more time in the day for quiet prayer. But if I don’t first give my life to Jesus my penance is meaningless. Jesus gave it all for us. Should we not also give our everything for Him?
I am reminded of the words from the hymn, "When I Survey The Wondrous Cross":
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.
I hope your Lent is going well. I hope your penances are leading you into a deeper understanding of Christ’s sacrifice for us. But if not, there’s still time. Lent is not over yet. There’s still time to refocus and to dig deeper.
Quiet your heart this day and ask Jesus to show you if there are any parts of your life that you have not yet offered to Him. And don't be afraid to give Him Everything.
Anna Coyne is a wife, mother, knitter, gardener, and convert to the Catholic faith. Read more about her here.