This is the text of this evening’s meditation at the Taizé service for Holy Week.
One of the things that you get from reading and re-reading the biblical accounts of Jesus again and again is the sense and depth of the emotions.
You also get a sense of the real life themes within it.
And yet what do we see in our the stained glass of the historic churches?
What do we see in our schools?
What do we see on our TVs?
A blonde haired and blue eyed Jesus.
This is a picture by an Indian artist called Frank Wesley.
Here he depicts Mary weeping over the feet of Jesus.
Notice how it is eastern in feel.
Here Mary appears Japanese.
Look at her face.
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
This is an intimate picture.
It shows the reaction of Mary.
See how she wipes his feet with her hair.
This is costly.
It is a personal cost.
She is giving of herself.
Jesus is walking the middle east in sandals.
Jesus’ feet would have been filthy with dust and dirt.
This woman anoints and cleans them with her hair and it is a costly gesture in terms of money and status.
But this is a costly gesture in terms of dirt.
But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me”.
Isn’t Judas a fascinating person?
I wonder if you think of him often.
He has been with Jesus for years.
More and more books have focussed on him.
Many people want to find a way to re-establish him.
To fix him.
Maybe one of the reasons for this is that he seems so like us.
We live in a society where complaint appears to be the accepted language.
It’s always someone else’s fault.
It’s always someone could have done something better.
It’s the gossip in the workplace.
It’s the other person should have done something better, different.
You see it on the TV.
Think of the Apprentice.
The world calls us to rip other people to pieces.
How can we criticise Judas when we are Judas?
When we bring others down and back-stab people and complain about them.
When we are rarely or never satisfied.
We live in a world where most of us have so much, yet we’re so discontent.
Maybe we need to see that most of us have too much Judas in us and too little Mary.
Too much cynical criticism and too little love of what is really important.
Perhaps I need to be a little less like Judas and a lot more like Mary.
Look into the face of Mary.
Maybe this week we could start to try and have a little more of the attitude of Mary about us
Maybe I can try to be more like Mary.
Perhaps a little more praise.
Perhaps a little more care for the people around us.
Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.