Fifth Sunday in Lent: Anointing

jarSmell is so evocative. A sudden waft of scent can immediately call up associations within our memories, good and bad. A suggestion of a particular flower moves us into a loved garden walk; the smell of antiseptic reminds us painfully of a hospital stay.

The reading from John 12 today immerses us, like Mary, in a world of conflicting emotions, borne by contrasting aromas. We sit here with Mary, between the stench of Lazarus’s recent death and the mob smells of sweat and fear surrounding the approaching crucifixion. In this still moment, as Mary pours out her love, faith and gratitude, let us receive from her the perfumed gift of life, holding to resurrection hope in the midst of death.

I wonder if the lingering smell from this one extravagant outpouring stayed with Jesus as he trudged that final road, carrying his cross? How one moment of kindness, of extravagant love, might carry us through the deathly times on a sensual promise of life and hope…