I learned that Monday through Wednesday are totally allowed to be called Holy this week. Or Great, in some Eastern Orthodox circles. So! Holy Tuesday it is. And today was a great day. Got a lot of work done in various coffee shops and the library with all sorts of my dearest classmates. And Kelsey and I got free Ben and Jerry's scoops. Sure, we waited in line for like thirty minutes with like 200 of our closest Cal undergrad friends. So worth it.
Anyway, there's not a lectionary text for today, but the middle of the passion story is sort of assigned to these days before the triduum, and I've been ruminating on this part:
While Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. But some were there who said to one another in anger, “Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they scolded her .But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.” (Mark 14:3-9)
And, like, I don't know what nard is. Or like, why she pours it over his head. Or why, in John's gospel, she puts it in her hair and then onto his feet. That's not the point, interestingly enough. The point is that, here, Mary (she's named in John's gospel) pours her heart into Jesus as she pours out this jar of ointment. And yet, those observing are unable to understand the nature of her giving, but rather are appalled that such valuable ointment has been "wasted." Jesus, of course, understands. This woman has understood where Jesus is going, and has given all she can to him. And what's interesting about this passage, too, is how true Jesus' last sentence is, there. This is part of the (rather hefty) lectionary text for Palm Sunday. Every single Palm Sunday, the story of this woman is told. Every time the good news is proclaimed across the world, each Holy Week, what she has done is told in remembrance of her. Her act of deep love is told in accordance with his. Every year. In the most important week in our tradition.
What does this say about the women in the Holy Week stories? There are a few women whose stories we hear this week (all the Marys, let's be real). This Mary and her sister Martha, the sisters of the dead-and-raised Lazarus; Mary, the mother of Jesus; Mary Magdalene, to whom the risen Christ first appeared.
Women, though sideswept in first-century society, are often at the forefront of Jesus' ministry. The men in the room never know what to do about it. I can just see Jesus smiling, putting up a hand to calm their sputtering, and then spouting beautiful words of wisdom regarding the faithful acts of these women.
These women, who could have been me.