Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, as we enter into the Holy Week, on this blessed Monday, we are presented with God Who is loving and forgiving, filled with mercy and compassion, Who wants to forgive us from our sins and shortcomings, from our disobedience and rebelliousness. And this is important because the whole reason for the celebration of this Holy Week is based on God’s love for each and every one of us.
For as we heard from the Book of the prophet Isaiah in our first reading today, the Lord has sent us His salvation in the Messiah and Servant He has brought into this world, and this One He has sent, was none other than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the Son of God and Son of Man, the One Who revealed God’s infinite and boundless love for all of us, and Who sought sinners and those who have fallen into sin, to heal them and liberate them from their bondage to sin.
That was what we have also heard in our Gospel passage today, when we heard of the moment when the Lord Jesus was with His disciples and Mary, likely Mary Magdalene, whom in many accounts was a former prostitute that the Lord had redeemed and saved from the possession of demons and evil spirits. Mary took out an alabaster jar filled with expensive pure nard perfume, and anointed the feet of the Lord with it.
And not only that she anointed the Lord’s feet with the rich and fragrant perfume, but she also wiped the Lord’s feet dry with her own hair. And if we understand the gestures and the importance of one’s actions and appearances at the time, we should appreciate even better how significant this event is for each and every one of us. What Mary had done, was a representation and symbol of her total love, surrender, humility and commitment to the Lord.
A woman’s hair is her glory and her crown, and the beauty of a woman is often linked to her hair. And even more so during Jesus’ time, a woman’s hair is so precious, that it is ought to be covered with veil, as St. Paul mentioned in his Epistles, that a woman ought to cover her glory in the presence of the Lord. Yet, Mary used those very hair, her own glory, to do what seemed to be the most humiliating of tasks, that is to wipe another person’s feet, which in contrast to the hair, is associated with filth, humiliation and dishonour.
Mary therefore gave her best to the Lord, not just in using the expensive pure nard perfume, which was a really expensive aromatic matter at the time, but in using her own pride and glory to humble herself before the Lord such, not just in front of a few but many who witnessed what she has done. And some misunderstood her intentions, such as Judas Iscariot, the one who was about to betray the Lord, because he was already then having dishonest and wicked intentions in his heart.
That was why he was quick in criticising Mary before everyone who was present and rightfully was immediately rebuked by the Lord for that unjust and completely improper criticism. By contrasting the actions and words of Mary and Judas Iscariot, we can see how while the former was filled with faith and humility before God, recognising her own sinfulness and unworthiness before God, she gave her best to serve Him and to seek Him for His love, mercy and forgiveness.
And in contrast, Judas Iscariot, whom in some accounts was one of the most brilliant and most qualified among the disciples of the Lord, on account of his role as some sort of treasurer of the Lord’s company, which definitely required some intelligence and skills in accounting and the handling of finances, this one was not filled with love and faith for God, but instead with selfishness, greed and pride. And that eventually led to his downfall in his betrayal of the Lord.
And if we look through the first reading again and reflect on the whole events of this Holy Week, we will realise that the Lord Himself did what Mary had done. The Lord, Who is King of Kings, Lord of Lords and Master of all the Universe certainly had no need to humble Himself, and yet, He assumed the flesh of Man, and humbled Himself such that, He took up even the condition of a slave, and burdened Himself with the punishment for our sins, so that, each and every one of us may be reconciled with God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we continue to journey through this blessed time of the Holy Week, let us all deepen our relationship with God, and reflect more on the Lord’s love for each and every one of us, His loving heart and compassionate mercy, by which He has willingly humbled Himself, and gave Himself the burden of the cross, that is all of our sins and unworthiness, our shortcomings and rebelliousness, so that by His suffering and death on the cross, He brings us all together to share in His resurrection, so that we all receive a new life, one that is no longer bound and enslaved to sin.
May the Lord continue to guide us and may He strengthen our faith and our commitment to serve Him and to love Him each and every days of our life. May He also inspire us all to live our lives following the good examples of the humility of Mary, who gave her all in her service to God, in her humility and dedication to Our Lord and Saviour. Amen.