One of the things that you get from reading and re-reading the Gospels again and again is the sense and depth of the emotions. It’s also the universality of the themes.
I was speaking to a local vicar last week who challenged a secular headteacher that she only had pictures of Jesus that showed him blue eyed and blond haired in the school!
I love this picture by Frank Wesley (an Indian artist) showing a Japanese influenced picture of Mary weeping over the feet of Jesus.
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4
The picture by Wesley is an intimate picture of the reaction by Mary. The wiping of his feet with her hair. Costly.
Having recently returned from Kenya and walked about with sandles Jesus’ feet would have been filthy with dust and dirt. Ingrained dirt. This woman anoints and cleans them with her hair and it is a costly gesture in terms of money and status and just in terms of dirt!
But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6 (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”
Judas is a fascinating person isn’t he? More and more literature has focussed on him. Trying to re-establish him.
Maybe one of the reasons for this is that he seems so like us.
We live in a society where complaint appears to be the accepted language. It’s always someone else’s fault. It’s always someone could have done something better. It’s the gossip in the workplace. It’s the other person should have done something better, different. You see it in popular TV (just think the Apprentice) where people are called upon to rip someone else to pieces.
How can we criticise Judas when we are Judas? When we bring others down and back-stab people and complain about them. When we are rarely or never satisfied – when most of us have so much and so little contented with it.
Maybe we need to see that most of us have too much Judas in us and too little Mary. Too much cynical criticism and too little adoration of what is really important. Maybe this week we could start to try and have a little more of the attitude of Mary about us than that of Judas. A little more praise, adoration and care for others we work with, or that we meet and a little less of the criticism and pulling down.
Other Meditations for Holy Week
Last year’s meditations for Holy Week start here: