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Monday of Holy Week – The Unction of Love

Monday, April 02, 2012
Readings: Isaiah 42:1-7; Psalm 27; John 12:1-11

When Norwegians participate in surveys and are asked to describe their habits on different matters, like: ’How much do you drink? How much money do you spend on coffee bars? How often do you have sex?’ –the answer is always the same: ’Oh, I’m probably the average type, I guess I’m somewhere in the middle.’ Whatever kind of question is posed, and whatever may be the actual habits, they usually end up describing themselves as the average person. They don’t want to stick out. They don’t want to draw attention. They want to hide them self behind the cover of what they believe is ‘normal’. In today’s Gospel, we are far from the average pattern, for good and for bad. Through Judas, we meet the vices always present in our humanity; selfishness, covetousness and fraudulence. Mary on the other hand bears witness of humility, of gratitude, of compassion and of love.

In today’s Gospel we witness a general truth concerning relations between Christ and every man and women: it is rarely a matter of ambivalence. People come to him, and they leave him in deepest joy and gratitude, like the woman caught in adultery (John 7) or the blind man at the Siloah pond (John 9). Or they leave him in anger or sadness, like the many Pharisees and Scribes, or the rich man who was told to sell everything and follow Jesus (Mark 10). To be around Jesus is to leave the neutral zone behind. Why? Because being close to Christ is to approach revealed love in its essence. Our world consists of forces that are being constantly confronted; good or evil, love or hate, compassion or selfishness, humility or pride... When we search God in our lives, these forces are not being left behind. They are being confronted, just as Christ himself confronts these forces in his own life.

Christians have since the earliest days come together to worship and pray. In the assembly that in time becomes what we know as the Church, we find ourselves in the place where God’s love is revealed in its most intense form; through worship, songs and praise in the fellowship of believers, in listening to and receiving the Word of God, and in the Eucharist where Christ’s sacrifice is made present and given us. We are being exposed to the source of love, the source that is capable of giving us what we truly long for. And we are exposed to ourselves in the light of this source. We are called to see ourselves as we are. For good and bad.

Mary anoints the feet of Jesus and dries them with her hair. Christ is being anointed king, and we become part of his kingdom. In something of a foreshadowing of the sacrament of the anointing of the sick, Christ is consecrated to his suffering and death by which we receive healing and eternal life (Catholic Cathecism § 1521). Mary anoints the feet of Christ with her hair, as if she said: ‘I’m not worthy to untie his sandal straps’, but her hair is filled with a sweet fragrance given the groom of the Church. Six days before the feast of Passover Mary pours out the oil over her master’s feet, as she pours out her love from her heart. Our great feast is approaching. Christ is preparing to reveal his everlasting, self-giving love for us. Are we ready to reveal our love for him?

Bror Haavar Simon Nilsen OP


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