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Mary’s Example

by Mar 25, 2024Friar Reflection

In today’s Gospel Mary anoints the feet of Jesus.  This event occurs six days before Passover.  On Passover Jesus will wash the feet of his disciples.  John the Evangelist wants us to see these two events as interrelated.  John describes Mary’s actions in this way: “Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.”  Notice that Mary used her own hair instead of a towel to dry Jesus’ feet.

Much of Jesus’ homeland consisted of dusty roads.  Many people either wore sandals or went barefoot.  So, when a traveler arrived at their destination they would need to wash and anoint their feet.  Jesus interprets Mary’s actions not only as a service but also as prophetic: “Leave her alone.  Let her keep this for the day of my burial.”  Mary’s actions are prophetic, pointing ahead to Jesus’ passion, death and burial, and resurrection.  Mary’s actions even serve as a model for Jesus.

A few chapters later, Jesus will wash the feet of his own disciples and dry them with a towel.  As Mary has given Jesus a model to imitate, Jesus now gives his disciples a model to imitate.  “Do you realize what I have done for you?  You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.  If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.  I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (John 13:12-15).

This Holy Week you and I are asked to see ourselves in the Gospel proclamation.  We are invited and even challenged to follow the model of Mary and especially Jesus.  We are called to follow the way of humility, service, and sacrifice.  But we are not only invited to wash one another’s feet but also to allow Jesus to wash our feet.  This means to accept humbly the gift of love and mercy that he offers us from his heavenly Father.

Image: “Dreux Saint-Pierre Jesus 287.JPG – Wikimedia Commons is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED.