What is the most compassionate act that you have done? What has been the most beautiful act of compassion done to you? We enter Holy Week and are in wait mode. Now is the acceptable time to ponder deep questions before we arrive at these high feast days.
In today’s Gospel, we witness a profound gesture of compassion by Mary towards Jesus in the Gospel of John. Prior to the Passover, Jesus is visiting his friends, Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. Mary takes a pound of costly perfume to anoint Christ’s feet and humbly uses her hair to wipe them. This creates a stir for many reasons, but Jesus speaks the truth of what he knows–she is preparing for his burial.
In the accompanying psalm, we are encouraged to wait for the Lord, to be strong and to let our hearts take courage. This is what Mary was doing. She was waiting for the Lord while waiting upon him. His time was near at hand. She was strong and she let her heart take courage, Psalm 27 is a song of comfort for me. I discovered it after my sister passed away. For several weeks, it appeared intermittently in the daily readings, bringing me deep peace. I return to it now as the Triduum approaches. I think in some ways there may be an equation for compassion there. Wait for the Lord, add inner strength and courage, and find compassion.
I imagine Mary knew she would be a target for her action. She chose to do it anyway. In the First Reading of Isaiah 42, our mission is no different than the Suffering Servant. We are to bring light to the nations, open the eyes of those who cannot see, break out captives from their prisons, and illuminate those who sit in darkness. These are all acts of compassion, of mercy, and of love.
What if each of us committed to doing one act of compassion before Holy Thursday arrives? Is there something that you gave up for Lent, or added in, that can become a tangible sign of transformation this week? Pray about this and offer the Lord an act of compassion.