"The Lavishness of God"
Written by the Reverend Canon Caleb J. Lee,
President of the Standing Committee for the Diocese of South Carolina
It is Monday in Holy Week. Today our Gospel reading is John 12:1-11. We hear about the anointing of Jesus’s feet at Bethany by Mary with costly perfume. Biblical scholars and commentators remark that the purpose of the story is to show that Mary, in her quite humble and sacrificial act, is not only anointing Jesus for his burial that will follow soon, but also anointing Jesus as King and High Priest. It is Jewish tradition that kings and high priests are anointed with oil. In this radical act, we see Mary confessing and acclaiming Jesus as High priest, as king.
The fact that Mary anoints his feet, and not, let’s say, his head, like other kings and high priests, reminds us that there is something very unique about Jesus; something about his servanthood and humility that differentiates him from other kings and priests. Jesus is the Son of God, and chose not to position himself into a place of earthly power, but instead walked among us, dining and conversing with outcasts and sinners, publicans and prostitutes. This is our God: an itinerant rabbi with filthy feet. And Mary anoints those filthy feet with her hair. In this act we find that Mary is “letting her hair down,” mirroring our Lord’s self-emptying love as she lavishly pours out all that she has at the feet of her beloved.
I am reminded of time spent with the Reverend Martin Smith during Holy Week a few years back where he reminded us all that the mere amount of the nard being used, mirrors that at Jesus tomb, where we find Nicodemus supplying it. These amounts of nard, being used at the home of Lazarus by Mary, and the amount used at Jesus tomb, are both nothing short of complete overkill. A deeper spiritual meaning must be at work. This amount of nard is used to express the lavishness of God.
The lavishness of his love.
The lavishness of his mercy.
The lavishness of his grace in the fragrant offering he gives once and for all in his son, Jesus.
May we rest in the lavishness of God’s love, grace, and mercy in the days ahead.
During the uncertain times created by the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, leadership of the diocese will send out regular meditations on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays for the next while as we all adjust to a new chapter of living and being the Church.