As we continue our Lenten journey, we draw closer to the cross. Today’s gospel brings Jesus’ coming death into focus, and it comes in the way that Mary honors Jesus’ body. Even though Jesus has not yet died, Mary prepares him lovingly, tenderly for burial. She anoints Jesus’ feet. She wipes them clean with her hair.
Beyond the intimacy and devotion of this very physical act, John’s gospel brings another detail into focus: the smell. The perfume that Mary uses for the anointing fills the room with the loveliest of fragrances. In this room, every sense was confronted with the reality of what was about to happen. Surely the disciples who were sitting tableside with Jesus on that day would remember exactly where they were any time they got a whiff of that particular perfume again.
The reality of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ engages every single sense. See your salvation on the cross. Feel it when you cradle the feet of a loved one. Smell the love of God in the unmistakable scent of a loved one, on the collar of a shirt or a favorite cooked meal. Hear it in a hymn, in birdsong, in the rush of a river or the stillness of a lake. Taste it in the bread and the wine, in the special meals you will share through Holy Week and Easter. God’s forgiveness and love is here, all around you, and revealed through every sense.
Let us pray: God, thank you for the body which you have given me, for the many ways it enables me to experience love in my life. Open every sense to the knowledge of your truth. Fill my heart with the fragrance of your love. Help me to, like Mary, accompany my loved ones into death, equipped with the extravagance of your grace. Amen.