The anointings of Jesus in the gospels happen at a meal where Jesus is an honored guest. Recall that in that time and place, the nobility, honored guests, and banqueters dined reclining on flat couches (think of beach loungers), leaning up on an elbow, with their legs and feet stretched out on the couch beside them. A servant might sit on the end of her mistress’ couch at her feet. Or a disciple might sit on her teacher’s couch at his feet. It would be easy and not at all disruptive for Mary of Bethany to simply reach out her hand and anoint Jesus’ feet.
Many people also use the word “anointed” as a metaphor for the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Mary, like others in every age, lived in hope that the Anointed One would come soon, overthrow oppression everywhere, and set things right forever. She had come to believe that Jesus was that Anointed One.
This message is excerpted from “Look closely at the Emmaus story to better understand how you recognize Jesus” by Audrey Novak Riley in the July 29, 2021, blog of the Women of the ELCA. Today is the fifth Sunday in Lent.
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