The dance of the perfumed oil was not the smell of life, but that of death. It was a preparation, a love story, a total consecration. The one whose heart beat for the one whose heart would soon be stopped.
The scene of Mary anointing the feet of Jesus and drying them with her hair is a movement of love. It is an act of worship, a passionate “yes.” The contradiction of the time was that is was in fact a woman, and not a man, who was performing this religious ritual. It was Mary who was preparing Jesus for death.
The subtlety of the movement can be lost if we expect complicated answers. Worship is not an act that is performed for others, it is an act performed for one.
Her movement was intentional, the dowry that was all that she had, the most precious gift.
The very thing that was meant to make her was the very thing that she gave away
The costly bottle of nard was the entirety of her inheritance, what the world had given to define what she might have been. And while for years the fragrant nard sat listless in that bottle, it came alive at the feet of Jesus with purpose and meaning.
The breaking of the fragrant oil at the feet of Christ was not a waste, it was a rebellion
And while we contemplate this one small act, this sacred mystery of what that nard may have smelled like, the sweet smell that reaches our nostrils should remind us of the sweetness and the sorrow of preparing ourselves for Holy Week. We too are to prepare the body of our Lord for proper burial, but how do we do that?
By breaking our most precious possession, by breaking our alabaster box
It has been several weeks since our vulnerabilities have been exposed, since time at home has forced us to stare into the eyes of our maker. We have found ourselves helpless, crying, desperate and out of control. We have realized that we are small.
And in that smallness, we have either continued to live our lives as if God did not exist, or we like Mary, have fallen at the feet of Christ and found ourselves desperate and unworthy. Mary did not break that alabaster jar to have it go to waste, we too should not break ours without counting the cost.
And what is it in your alabaster jar that you do not want to break it?
Do you refuse to give alms because the church is closed?
Have you accumulated earthly treasures that you have hoarded away?
Are you holding on to that very important thing- your job, your pride, whatever it is that you refuse to let go, refuse to break, because you think that it belongs to you?
Would you not rather be able to break that alabaster box of your own free will in an act of worship and total devotion to God rather than have the sin of man break it for you?
What is in your alabaster box?
Sit with these questions. The answers will come to you. If it’s all that you have, if it is everything, you must count the cost.
Have you truly counted the cost of being a follower of Christ?
It will cost you everything…
I have been clutching my alabaster box close to me and am unwilling to break it for you. Now before your passion and death, I beg of you to expose me, to help me to break it, so that I can be free to serve you with my whole heart. I have waited for this very moment, like Mary, to give myself away to you, as the bride does for her bridegroom. I am here at your feet, box in hand, waiting for your words.
In Jesus Name,