Monday of Holy Week in All Saint’s Chapel at CDSP, April 6, 2009
John 12: 1-11
The house was filled with the fragrance of perfume.
The dinner was prepared and the woman was kneeling quietly at his feet.
A gesture so familiar, so intimate that it’s almost embarrassing.
She took the perfume… the delicate jar that had been beautifully crafted and fit perfectly into her hand.
She anointed his feet… the liquid splashing out, the aroma … warm and musky… drawing the attention of others to her to him.
She wiped his feet with her loosened hair… her long dark tresses cascading down, hiding her face from view, the ends now glistening with moisture.
Is she joyful? Is she sad?
Are there tears falling on his feet, mixing with the wetness?
Her heart is breaking… open.
And the house was filled with the fragrance of perfume.
Can you smell it? Are you there with them?
This overwhelming scent of warmth… enveloping, inviting. All who are at the table are invited, to take part in this, her act of love. Everyone is included.
And this act… this simple act… that almost makes everyone uneasy, nearly makes everyone squirm, this act breaks open everyone’s hearts because she shares it without expectation, without embarrassment, without pretense.
And then the man bellowed… demanding judgment for crude worth. His temptation hanging out there for all to jump into.
What did he bring with him into the room that would not allow him to open to love made so tangible, so free?
And here we are in this room… with these two guides who both invite us to spend Holy Week with them. Maybe you can hear their introduction…
“Welcome to Holy Week… I am Mary and I am Judas… and I’ll be your guide.”
Both are here in this world with is…. attentive to this physical place, these physical needs of humans. They are not spouting some heavy theology, they are simply interested in caring for others. And John is obvious in his attempt to direct our conclusions about them.
Judas has it wrong and Mary has it right.
But you have to have some sympathy for Judas here… even though John presents him as a thief.
Afterall, how many times a day do we follow the call to do, rather than the call to love?
The funny thing is, they are not mutually exclusive… even though Judas would have us believe that they are.
Judas is inviting us to decide between love and duty. In Judas’ world, it doesn’t really matter how we serve people or at what cost that comes, as long as it gets done.And this is a temptation… to make the ends worth the means. And this duty is the boundary that Judas places around himself. He places it above all else. It’s so important to take care of the less fortunate. It is important… but not because it’s our duty.
Mary is inviting us to love. In Mary’s world, love is full of sorrow & pain, joy & laughter.
Love is at the same time full of life and full of death. In Mary’s world, love is what is costly and duty means nothing.
And her action asks us, Is caring for the poor really a decision you have to make if you love Christ with full abandon? Doesn’t it naturally flow out of the love you have for Christ?
So, you see… Mary’s invitation is about intimacy. She loves Christ without caring what people think and because of that, her love is so expansive that it can include everyone. She is inviting us to come closer to Christ this week.
Can we go there with her?
Can we be so intimate with Christ that it’s almost embarrassing?… the way Mary was?
Mary gives us an inappropriate act that is so pure, so full of utter love that it breaks the boundaries we’ve placed around ourselves.
And this is not about sex. Because intimacy is not about sex.
Intimacy is about dropping all of it… all the voices of concern, these mirrored walls that tell us who we think we are.
What are your voices of concern that prevent you from opening more fully… here in this room?
Are they questions that plague you?
What would my bishop think if I did that? Is this what the rubrics say?
Why do I bother opening my mouth in class?
How can I make sure that I feel included here?… liked?… needed?
How can I make sure that I don’t get too close, too involved?
How do I protect myself from being hurt?
There are many, many… many things that we might bring with us into this room.
And they are the very things that we must drop if we want to love with full abandon.
What are we bringing with us into this fragrance-filled room that we prevent ourselves from being open to a love made so tangible?
What are our Judas temptations that serve to betray our love for Christ?
What are we bringing to the table that prevents us from feeling God’s presence in every single cell of our being?
The temptation that Judas gives us is ever-present. Our mind fills with it all the time. The temptation of getting caught up in duties, in responsibilities, in schoolwork, in conflicts… these things that we sometimes think define us. It can be a challenge to avoid being trapped into the call of the world at our doorstep. We hear Judas… he doesn’t have to bellow quite so loudly.
And Mary knows that if she doesn’t do this now, if she doesn’t love boldly now… then there will be no other time. She loves without expectation, without thinking about what she might get. She loves with abundance, she exposes herself without concern, she pours herself into the act.
Have you ever exposed yourself like that in front of anyone? Bearing absolutely everything?
Be honest, don’t you want to?… just a little?
Isn’t this what a part of yourself has always wanted?
Now is your chance. You’ve been invited by Mary’s lush invitation to intimacy with Christ.
If not here at this table, then where?
If not now, when?
For this is Holy Week.
allow your heart to be broken open in love
drop your every defense, your every distraction, your every reason not to
It is not safe. There are no well-defined boundaries. Those pre-conceived notions about how things are supposed to work have no place here. There is no control. We do not know where it will lead us or what we might be called to do.
Can you do this? Can you allow it to melt… that thing that is holding love at a distance?
Can you come closer to Christ?
God is waiting for you.