top of page

Reflection for Holy Week - #1

John 12 1-8

We are, a lot of the time, constricted, confined, in how we love. I will love you so far and no further. I will love this little circle of my friends and family and no further. I will love you as far as I can trust you and when that trust runs out I will withdraw my love and return to my defensive position. Sometimes we are creatures in cages and we make the cages with our minds and sometimes we try and extend the cage by a little bit more, but not too much. Life in a cage is a safe life in way after all.

We are terrified of being hurt, being wounded by the world. If we love too much, too openly, too recklessly won't we be eaten alive? Or indeed hung up on a cross? Don't we need to weigh our options and muster our resources?

But listen to this, listen to this. '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.' The perfume is costly. Mary wipes Jesus' feet with her hair. The house is filled with the fragrance of the perfume. This action by Mary is an act of outrageous love, it is a love which crosses boundaries, it is an act of love-making in its way, it is a love which has no sense of self about it at all, it is a love which fills the space with its power. Mary has caught this outrageous love from Jesus. This is the outrageous love of God, the excessive love of God, the embarrassing love of God.

The voice of Judas. 'Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?' The voice of Judas. Weighing the cost. Being practical and human and miserable and reasonable. Confining Mary's act of love in the prison of profit and loss. I have heard some people say that Christian love, particularly love for enemies, is a matter of having respect for other people. I think it's a miserable interpretation because it sounds so dull and so reasonable. I have respect for you. It's the sort of thing you might learn at a team-building conference.

No, Christ calls us to abandon such legalistic interpretations. He calls us to allow God to fill our dry, closed and fearful hearts with an outrageous love for humanity and for all of creation, a love that is fuelled by forgiveness, a love that makes us ridiculously open and vulnerable. Remember, we are fools for Christ and he is the greatest fool of all.

Think of the places inside you, and in your life, which have grown narrow and loveless. Hold them now in this time and space and allow Christ, allow God to fill those places with the fragrance of divine love. Allow God to call you to be as absurd and magnificent as Mary as she anoints Jesus' feet and wipes them with her hair. Do not be bound by the anxiety and reasonableness of Judas as he counts the cost. Be set free from the confined spaces of the self and enter that selfless love of Christ and let that love re-enchant your world. BEN



bottom of page