Today’s Gospel reading tied in so beautifully with the next topic I wanted to discuss in my series on becoming a beautiful Godly woman that I had to include in today’s post. The reading was from John 12:1-11; John describes a extravagant act of worship and devotion on the part of Mary, the woman who knew that sitting at the feet of Jesus was the most important thing to do. We read in verse 3:
Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil
made from genuine aromatic nard
and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair;
the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
John describes the scene in such a compelling way that you can experience it with your senses. I found myself turning it over and over in my mind while driving in to work today.
This leads into Genevieve Kineke’s examples of living according to the sacraments, using Holy Mother Church as our best example. In Chapter 2 of her book The Authentic Catholic Woman, Kineke talks about the sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist) and how we can mirror them in our lives. Baptism was the one that came to mind while reading today’s Gospel and here’s why.
On page 15 Kineke writes:
“It is God’s gift to us that we can lift up our mundane tasks of washing and purifying and link them to Christ’s own work.”
She gives a couple of compelling examples:
Example 1: Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity wanted to minister to patients in a Russian hospital but they were only allowed to scrub toilets. Rather than complain about the menial work, the sisters conducted their work with such fidelity that the beauty of the Spirit shown through everything they did. This most menial of tasks ended up changing the hearts of the officials who then allowed the sisters to minister to the patients.
Example 2: The women who visited the tomb of Jesus went there to attend to His corpse and prepare it for burial by washing the body and anointing it with oil and spices.
In a sense, this is what Mary was doing in anticipation of Jesus’ death as Jesus points out in verse 8:
So Jesus said, “Leave her alone.
Let her keep this for the day of my burial.
You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”
In order to anoint the feet of Jesus, I am guessing she had to wash them first, not a pleasant job since feet were largely unprotected from the elements and the main mode of transportation. But she attended to His feet with such love and tenderness, turning a possibly unpleasant job into something beautiful. It was an act that transcended time so that you and I could meditate on it today.
I must admit, I never could make cleaning sacramental. I am not good at cleaning and I dislike the task very much. I only do it when I have to and then it’s such a big job that it gets me very aggravated. I tend to complain loudly while I’m doing it and put myself in a bad mood over it which will spill out in the way I treat others. Hardly sacramental!
I tackled spring cleaning yesterday and tried hard to remember the idea of making it sacramental. I can’t say I succeeded but at least I remained calm and didn’t take out any bad mood on my family. I’m guessing I don’t have a clear enough understanding of baptism yet to make the connection. Or perhaps, it’s just a matter of coming outside of myself and turning towards Jesus, as Mary did. She certainly wasn’t put off by His dirty feet! She relished the idea of ministering to Him in such an intimate manner.
So, with an example like Mary, perhaps cleaning will take on a new dimension. I also love reflecting on those Sisters of Charity and how even cleaning toilets could be used as a way to bring Jesus to others.
I’ll be doing more spring cleaning this week and will try to keep those examples in front of me. I know I need to ask God for help before I begin any task. I’ll let you know if I make any progress.
Copyright 2011 Susan Bailey