Today, the Latin Church has the gospel of Judas betraying Jesus (see previous post today) and the Byzantine Church will chant the story of Jesus being anointed at Bethany. For me, this is another aspect of the Mystery of the Incarnation.
Another theological way of discerning the meaning of today’s witness before the Lord is that the Church is asking us to attend anew to the interior life where we are asked to have a singularity in the way we live God’s grace: how well have we lived our vocation? The converse to this aspect of interiority is that you and I have a certain terror in being the only one responsible for persons and works. This flip side can lead us to the rejection of life in the Garden of Eden (paradise).
The Judas event and the Lord’s anointing at Bethany have different thrusts, but the emphasis is the same: love breaks the chain of sin and division. Perfect Love does so in supreme way in drawing our heart to a new level of awareness.
This poetic text sets the stage for us.
O Lord, the woman who had fallen into a multitude of sins,
recognized Your divinity and joined the ranks of the myrrh-bearings.
Before Your burial, she offers You myrrh with her tears.
“Alas,” she says, “the stinging night of pleasure seizes me;
the dark and moonless love of sin grasps me.
Accept the stream of my tears and my copious weeping,
for You make the waters fall from the clouds into the sea.
Incline Your ear to the cry of my heart,
for You incline the heavens in Your ineffable condescension.
Allow me to kiss Your most pure feet,
drying them with the locks of my hair;
for these are the feet that Eve heard in Paradise,
and, trembling at Their approach, she hid herself.
O Lord, who can search out the number of my sins?
Who shall search the depth of Your judgments,
O God our Redeemer and the Savior of our souls?
In Your infinite love, do not despise Your servant.”