Monday of Holy Week 2018: Carrying Within, the Dark and Light
John 12:1-11 offers us a scene of surrender and tenderness as Mary anoints the feet of Jesus with costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard. Mary dries his feet with her hair.
This image is so multi-layered with meaning. Judas, who will betray Jesus, baulks at such an action because Judas surrenders to money and greed and not to the person of Jesus. Money wins for him. Jesus says that her action of anointing is leading us all to his burial. This image also leads us to Jesus’ action of washing feet on the night before he died.
This action of Mary, the tenderness of anointing feet with expensive oil, is ultimately a gift of sheer surrender to the gift of who Jesus is not only for her but also for us all these centuries later. She shows us how to surrender our lives to such a mystery, how to allow love to show us the way to Jesus. Mary helps us know whom Jesus is and how to give our lives to his passion, death and resurrection.
Surrendering to Jesus is a life long journey. We so prefer to live feeling we are in complete control of our lives, to know that our answers are correct, our lives are safe and that we live knowing we are at the center of the world. Surrendering to the mystery of faith invites us into a life of deep prayer, of profound letting go of the image of ourselves we cling to. Surrendering to God, to the mystery of love, offers us a home in the mercy and love only God has for us.
Many people in recovery from any addiction understand this surrender. Entering into powerlessness is very countercultural. We are educated to live enclosed within our own egos, our own interpretation of life and to live under the false power of our own self-sufficiency. To live a genuine life of service, of love of neighbor and learning to walk in the shoes of people who suffer requires of us surrender to the love and life God has for us. Surrender to God invites us into unity and not separation, to love not hate, to communion and not self-sufficiency.
This gospel story invites us into the story of real love in this Holy Week. Mary’s action helps us know that we are on the journey to offering our complete lives to Christ Jesus. This story of Jesus is not a story that is separate from our own lives. We must live the same surrender that Jesus lived out in the core of our faith, dying to our selves and living in the bountiful grace and beauty of Jesus’ redeeming love.
Questions to consider:
What does surrender to God mean to you?
How have you experienced such a mystery in your prayer and life?
What do you resist in this Holy Week? What are you being asked to let go of?
Who is Jesus for you?
The first reading today challenges us to realize God liberates us from the slavery of our selves. How do you pray with this text today? How can you realize who this God is for you and in the liberation of your own heart?
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
To open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.