Letting her hair down.
We’ve taken to responding “perfect” these days to texts and emails making arrangements of one sort or another. It’s so common that, however reassuring, my contrarian self usually avoids it.
Not so with what Mary does in today’s Gospel: anointing the feet of Jesus with a large quantity of “costly perfumed oil” and drying them with her hair. We’re invited to place ourselves there, seeing Mary’s devotion, hearing the oil washing over Jesus’ feet and the gentle sound of Mary’s hair, breathing in the aroma filling the room.
Now here’s something perfect on this Monday of Holy Week. It is, to rightly employ another overworked phrase, a prophetic gesture: anticipating by its very extravagance the extravagant act of love to which this week pays homage. The crimped and calculating reaction of Judas only serves to reinforce the full import of what Mary does: professing by her self-surrender a love that refuses to count the cost.
This kind of love is the defining mark of every Christian vocation. One cannot help but be reminded these days of those whose vocation binds them in a special way to this “don’t count the cost” devotion: the doctors and nurses and health-care workers on the front lines of this pandemic. They occupy a privileged place in our hearts and in our prayers during these holy days.