March 28, 2021 at St. Peter the Apostle & St. William Parish in Naples, FL
Mark 11, 1-10 Before the Procession
Isaiah 50, 4 -7 + Psalm 22 + Philippians 2, 6-11 – Mark 14, 1 to 15, 47
She is the one who proclaims this Gospel Good news. She is the one telling us without a word who it is that has come among us. When all the others are avoiding the truth, living in denial or fear, she defies the inconsistent fickle crowd in which we too often find ourselves. We might let her lead us through this week, and renew our faith, our courage, and our spirits because we have nothing to fear from the truth, and everything to gain from the one who hangs before us, who loves us enough to die for us. Let her story be proclaimed to all the world today because we believe that Christ has died, Christ is risen, and Christ……..
There is one person who stands out of the Passion account in Mark’s Gospel who has no name and says not a word. She is the one true believer who stands in sharp contrast to all the rest who in their cowardice, ambition, fear, and greed permit the greatest act of injustice in all of history: the murder of the Son of Man. The cast of characters is a cast of shame exposed by woman from Bethany with an alabaster jar.
It is no clay port. It is a precious jar, this “alabaster”. There is something about this jar and its contents that speaks of extravagance. She breaks it so that all the oil will flow out. It is not a common oil. Mark tells us that it was costly spikenard. All of it, every drop, flows over his head. Now he is the anointed one, the Christ. What others have denied, she has proclaimed. What others have refused, she has embraced, and he tells us that wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world, what she has done will be told I memory of her. We have just fulfilled that prophesy.
Yet, proclaiming it, telling the story, is not enough. We have to believe what she believed, and we have to act as she acted out of that belief. Unlike the disciples who ignored and lived in denial when he spoke of his death, she is there in public taking the ridicule of others. Unlike the fickle crowd who one day shouted “Hosanna” and then on another “crucify him”. She stands silent yet steadfast not the least bit concerned about their opinion or their judgement. She knows. She believes that this is God’s anointed one who taught and revealed that love was the only law of life.
She is the first of the women who stood at the cross and came to the tomb. The men were hiding. A woman who counts for nothing in the eyes of that world shames the power of Pilate, the greed of Judas, and the ambition of Herod. Unashamed to recognize the Christ that Peter himself denies, she steps out of that crowd easily manipulated by lies and fear. She is not threatened by the truth.