Questions for going deeper with the Scriptures for Wednesday, April 20th
The Wednesday of Holy Week | Mark 14:1-11
After the confrontations and clashes in the courts of the temple, Jesus retreats to be with his closest friends. He removes himself from the public eye, quite possibly to give his friends perspective that they still lack. The gospel writer tells us that the plot to kill Jesus is now in full swing. The authorities realized that there is no way to shut Jesus down or up. They have to remove the threat to their power and their way of life. Only one option remains.
The disciples are confused. This unnamed woman anoints the feet of Jesus with hugely expensive ointments and perfumes. She shouldn’t be there. Were they shocked by the money it represented?; by her actions? Were they irritated by her unsolicited presence?; by her gender? In any case they seem to forget what Jesus is about. Mark reminds us of the scope of the mission of Jesus by underlining that they’re gathered in the home of a former leper – an unclean, unwanted and unworthy member, outside of the boundaries of good society.
Throughout their journey of discipleship together, Jesus has been trying to teach, equip and empower his friends and followers for their participation in the death and resurrection that are coming. It’s an end-as-a-new-beginning. Instead, they are taken aback, surprised by the consequences of Jesus’ authority and the response that his radically inclusive love evokes in those liberated from their despair, isolation and ostracization. Curiously it’s in the light of the failure of the disciples, that this woman’s actions are described as something that will be remembered as long as the story is told.
The failure becomes a teacher, while the faithful students seem to become failures. The first are last, and the last first. It’s at this point that Jesus betrays Jesus. Why? Did he reject his master’s teachings in the end? Is he trying to provoke Jesus to seize power and change things by force? He seems to not get Jesus, even after all this time together on the path of faith.
How do you struggle to follow Jesus today? What distracts you from knowing the radical love and affirmation that this woman knew?