Spy Wednesday 2020 - Women With Him: A Feminist Celebration of Easter

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The Anointed One

Tell me again how
Jesus was made

        mother's blood
        smeared of birth--

        believer's oil
        spilt over head--

       lover's spice
       pressed in wounds--

if not through a woman.


Spy Wednesday is often remembered as the day Judas plotted to betray Jesus. With only this lens, it reads as another painful day amidst a week of heartbreak.

For all that is Judas--the betrayal, the forgetfulness, the despair--lest we not forget that Mary of Bethany was here too.

She enters the scene to find Jesus and his disciples at the dinner table. In her arms, she carries an alabaster jar filled with oil. "Very precious," Mark writes. "Very costly," John adds. Spikenard. An expensive, aromatic perfume, worth about a year's wages.

She has come to anoint her Lord and what happens next is messy--there's oil everywhere. She has broken the jar and lets it all pour out. Splashing over Jesus's body. Atop his head, in his hair, dripping off his ears and nose. She scoops up his feet in her hands and spreads the oil across his ankles and toes, wiping them with the ends of her hair. She has spared no expense and pays no mind to the disciples, jaws dropped. Mouths dry. Spatting out indignant words of "wasteful," "sinner," "woman."

And yet, Jesus and Mary emerge from the oil anew. Sticky and lusciously syrupy, they are sanctified; they are holy.


When I think of words like sacred, sanctify, divine, and holiness I think of things that are clean. Things that are pure and perfect. White roses kept in domed, glass display cases. Heavenly beings sitting on clouds playing harps. Things that are worthy of devotion, adoration, and worship.

Which means none of these words have room to hold me. My life is chaotic. I'm imperfect and flawed. I move about the world loudly--breaking all the roses' glass display cases and cutting my hands on the shards. I'm clumsy and loud and take up space. How can there be room in the kingdom for me and my mess?

But this story, this act of anointing, reminds me that holiness is in fact messy. Its sticky and unkempt. Its a full-bodied experience of heads and hands, ears, ankles, and feet, It means I can come as I am. I can arrive late to the party, interrupting the meal, just to gush over Jesus. 

And there will be people in the background sneering and cursing my name. But my gosh... can't you see I'm in the middle of something here? My Lord and I, we're working on our holiness together. We make things holy together, God and I.

And then I remember I've an alabaster jar of goodness somewhere. Saved for my Lord. To which he will welcome me, bathe in my offering, and call it good. Leaving a few words to remember me by: "Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her."

So while we may be tempted to remember Spy Wednesday as a day of betrayal, let us also remember it as a day of anointing. Here's to pouring out our oil, generously--lavishing in each messy drop that makes us holy.
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