Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Holy Week 2019: Everything's Alright

This story appears in all four gospels:  the anointing of Jesus ("Woman, your fine ointment, brand new and expensive, should have been saved for the poor!", Judas sings.  That's from the Johannine version of the story:  John 12;1-8).  The only other story that appears in all four gospels is the crucifixion story.  And like the crucifixion story, the story changes from gospel to gospel.  Three of the four crucifixion stories are connected to this anointing, connecting the act to the preparation of a body for burial.

Luke makes it about sex, which is why "JCS" has the version here (Mary Magdalene suggestively offering to make Jesus feel better; she's not symbolically preparing him for burial).  The "JCS" version also blends Mary Magdalene (the first woman mentioned in Luke 8:1, leading to a supposed connection between here and the unnamed woman of Luke 7:36-50) with the Mary sister of Lazarus in John's story.  Luke keeps the story separated from the events during the fateful Passover week; John places it at the very beginning of that week, which Christians now call Holy Week.

Other than that, everything's alright.


  1. It reminds me of the story this story about Dorothy Day:

    Hospitality of the heart transforms the way to see people and how we respond to them. Their needs become primary. Tom Cornell tells the story of a donor coming into the New York house one morning and giving Dorothy a diamond ring. Dorothy thanked her for the donation and put it in her pocket without batting an eye. Later a certain demented lady came in, one of the more irritating regulars at the CW house, one of those people who make you wonder if you were cut out for life in a house of hospitality. I can't recall her ever saying "thank you" or looking like she was on the edge of saying it. She had a voice that could strip paint off the wall. Dorothy took the diamond ring out of her pocket and gave it to this lady. Someone on the staff said to Dorothy, "Wouldn't it have been better if we took the ring to the diamond exchange, sold it, and paid that woman's rent for a year?". Dorothy replied that the woman had her dignity and could do what she liked with the ring. She could sell it for rent money or take a trip to the Bahamas. Or she could enjoy wearing a diamond ring on her hand like the woman who gave it away. "Do you suppose," Dorothy asked, "that God created diamonds only for the rich?"

  2. THAT is a lovely story! As the kids say today, I could dine out on that one for weeks; but I mean in contemplation, not in celebration of some skill of my own.

    That is an insight it took me a few years in seminary to come to, and even then I couldn't put it as concisely and clearly as Day did.

    Thanks for passing that one on.