‘My chosen one in whom my soul delights’ … ‘the house was full of the scent’
Who is it, who delights the very soul of God, the God who created the world and ‘gave breath to its people and life to the creatures that move in it?’ Isaiah points us to His ‘chosen one, ’ the One who is endowed with His Spirit; the divine mercy, Jesus Christ who ‘has compassion on our sins.’ The Son is the delight of His Father – ‘the Lord who created the heavens and spread them out.’
We cannot begin to hold the vast heavens in our minds, or see the delight of God the Father in His Son, alight with His Holy Spirit. A woman saw it though, and she understood. She did not speak about it but she knew that Jesus, the delight of the Father, must submit to His Father’s will. Perhaps she knew what this would mean, knew that He must suffer and die in obedience to the will of the Father. So she acted, and her simple action has never been forgotten.
She brought a pound of very costly nard to him as he dined. What extravagance! Such a quantity of perfumed ointment. An extravagance for the One who pours out His life so extravagantly. And Judas complained that it could have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor. But we are the poor. We are beggars before God and we depend on His mercy. We need Him to give us His chosen One, the One who His soul delights in. We need the Chosen One to pour away His life for us like precious ointment.
Mary poured the ointment on His feet and the men recoiled from the boldness and unashamed adoration of the woman on the floor. How restrained they were, how little they wanted to give to the One who gives all! They saw something worse too, when her hair fell over Him and she dries his feet with the dark veil of silk. Down through the years we see that moment and it shows us a truth – the Son of God, ready to pour out his life, anointed and adored before His death.
We live in a time when human contact is reduced. We see each other across the world,
through a screen; as St Paul tells us, we see God, ‘through a glass darkly’ and yet when we read this account from Bethany it is immediate. The extravagance of Mary’s gesture shocks us still.
The house fills with the fragrance of so much perfume poured out. As we read the words the perfume reaches us and fills us with the love of God. The house in Bethany is like each soul which fills with the fragrance of Christ. He has poured Himself out for each of us and we are only asked to accept, to take no notice of our doubts and accept His love and mercy with trust and confidence, like Mary of Bethany.