My Beloved the benevolent
Grace and peace wishing every goodness and blessing
I would like to contemplate with you in this letter on the ministry of pouring the fragrant oil. The Holy Bible offers us three women who poured fragrant oil on Christ our Lord.
First: The story of the woman who poured the fragrant oil on the head of our Lord Christ two days before the Passover, when Christ our Lord was at Simon the Leper’s house in the city of Bethany. This story was mentioned in the Gospel of St. Matthew (Matt. 26:6-13), and St. Mark (Mk. 14:3-9) “And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table.” Matt. 26:6-7 Christ our Lord praised this woman and said, “Assuredly, I say to you wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” Matt. 26:13. This woman, whose name the Bible did not mention, poured the most valuable thing she had on Christ’s head and became an example of devotion and sacrificial love. Thus, the church offers this story on Wednesday of the Holy Pascha week as an example of love and devotion. Contrary to this example is Judas Iscariot who on the same day went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” and they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. From that time, he sought an opportunity to betray Him.” Matt. 26:15-16. This shows a glaring contradiction between the betraying disciple and the devoted women pouring the fragrant oil.
The church chose to read this touching passage at the funeral prayers of women as an example of the woman who poured the most valuable thing she has, and the most valuable thing a human has is her life. In doing so, the church offers a consolation that the departed woman is like the woman who poured the fragrant oil and devoted her life to the Lord.
The ministry of pouring the fragrant oil is the ministry of consecrating one’s life to Christ who died for our salvation. It is a service of devotion and true love. We see Christ our God in every needy and suffering person; so, we pour fragrant oil on him to ease his suffering and fulfill his needs in love and devotion toward Christ our living God.
Second: The story of Mary, the sister of Lazarus, whom Christ raised from the dead after four days; St. John mentions, “Then six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair, and the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.” Jn.12:1-3 In Bethany, at Lazarus’ house and six days before the Passover, which is the eve of Christ’s entering Jerusalem, both sisters Martha and Mary made dinner in honor, love and gratitude to the Lord Jesus. While Martha was serving, Mary poured very costly fragrant oil on Jesus’ feet and wiped it with her hair. This was done in gratitude, especially after Mary and Martha did not understand why Christ did not come when they sent for Him when Lazarus was sick, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” Thus, when the Lord came after Lazarus died and was buried, Mary and Martha told Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jn.11:21; we notice that this story is different from the first story in some of the details regarding the time. The first story happened two days before the Passover but this story happened six days before. With regard to the location, although both stories happened in Bethany, the first happened at Simon the Leper’s house, and this one at Lazarus’ house. In the first story, the name of the woman was not mentioned, but in this one Mary, Lazarus’ sister was mentioned; and the church chose this story to be the Vespers’ Gospel of Palm Sunday.
Third: The story of the repentant woman who was mentioned in the gospel of St. Luke (Luke 7:36-50) that happened at Simon the Pharisee’s house, when the sinful woman offered deep repentance and expressed it with love, “And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil.”Lu.7:37-38. Christ accepted her repentance and said to Simon, “Therefore I say to you, her sins which are many are forgiven, for she loved much.” Lu. 7:47. And then He said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” Lu.7:48-50.
May God grant us to pour the most valuable of what we have of time, money and life in love for our beloved Christ. May God bless your offerings as a poured fragrant oil to support your brethren the needy through Santa Verena Charity Programs.