Teach us how to see (on Mary at the feet of Christ)

Teach us how to see (on Mary at the feet of Christ)

Mary stands in as symbol of all who sit at the feet of the Lord, all who follow as his disciples - all who seek to look to Christ for the one thing needed. All of us are invited to see much more than appears - all of us are encouraged to wait expectantly for something to burst forth from our Messiah, shedding new light on the landscape. And so we all look to Christ to see into the depths of reality, to glimpse the light and life of the world, to experience the fullness of God dwelling in man, to see the Lord of time who bridges the past into the now and makes possible our future, to see the one who at the consummation of the age will bring all out of their graves and wipe away all the tears of old as we enter the new heaven and new earth. By being present (attentive and expectant) in our relationship with Christ, we find ourselves where he is: in the depths of the non-intermittent, dependable, loving relationship of the Triune God; “the heart of discipleship is bound up with the life of the Trinity” (Williams). 


But we also find ourselves where Jesus is in another way. By looking to the face of Christ we are also taught to become aware of where and who he is with. The attentiveness we pay to Jesus, like Mary sitting at his feet, is not just a kind of aesthetic attitude while the important work takes place in the backrooms. Like walking out of a gallery we will be moved to find ourselves in the corners and circles of the world where Christ is pleased to be Emmanuel. Looking to Jesus teaches us to see him in our world today - sitting on street corners asking for change, stranded on Manus waiting on mercy, frightened in a youth detention centre isolated and abused. 

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And the Fragrance Filled the House

And the Fragrance Filled the House

“The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume”

 This is a household that new the stench of death, a family that had experienced death’s cruel sting. Just one chapter earlier in the Gospel of John, Jesus comes to Martha and Mary too late – Lazarus has died, he had laid buried four days in his tomb, we hear that the stench of death and decay emanated from it. At that time, when Mary threw herself at Jesus’ feet it was to weep and protest that if he came sooner their brother would be alive. Jesus himself, moved by the mourning, by the loss, and by the sting of death; Jesus wept. The stench of death and decay, the pain of death and loss, fills the town, the homes, and the hearts of all present at the tomb of their dearly loved Lazarus. Jesus, however, in the final sign of his ministry, shows that he is the resurrection and the life, and calls Lazarus out of his tomb – o death, where is your sting.

And so here we are, Jesus and Lazarus recline at table, Martha serves, and Mary once again throws herself at Jesus’ feet – though this time there are no tears of bitterness, no confrontation and disappointment instead there is an outpouring of lavish care and tenderness. Taking a posture of humility she anoints Jesus’s feet with expensive perfume and dries it with her hair, the smell fills the house – this is not the smell of decay, nor of death, this is the smell of abundance, of beauty, of life.    

But why has Mary performed this act?

(Image: The Anointing at Bethany by Daniel F. Gerhartz)

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