Passion Sunday Gospel: The Anointing at Bethany

The Gospel set for this Passion Sunday is John 12 1-8  It tells us of how Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus.I love this intense and beautiful moment in the Gospels, The God of the Cosmos enters as a vulnerable man into all the particular fragility of our human friendships and intimacy. I love the way Jesus responds to Mary’s beautiful, useless gesture and recognises it as something that is always worth while, something that will live forever, for all the carping and criticism of Judas, then and now.

This sonnet, whose reading falls on Passion Sunday this year, is also part of my sequence for Holy Week, so I will repost it in sequence then. It is in my collection Sounding the Seasons, published by Canterbury Press here in England. The book is now back in stock on both Amazon UK and USA and physical copies are shortly to be available in Canada via Steve Bell‘s Signpost Music. The book is now also out on Kindle. Please feel free to make use of these sonnets in church services and to copy and share them. If you can mention the book from which they are taken that would be great.

I am grateful to Oliver Neale for the image above and to Margot Krebs Neale for the one below. As always you can hear the poem by clicking on the title or the ‘play’ button

The Anointing at Bethany

Come close with Mary, Martha , Lazarus
So close the candles stir with their soft breath
And kindle heart and soul to flame within us
Lit by these mysteries of life and death.
For beauty now begins the final movement
In quietness and intimate encounter
The alabaster jar of precious ointment
Is broken open for the world’s true lover,

The whole room richly fills to feast the senses
With all the yearning such a fragrance brings,
The heart is mourning but the spirit dances,
Here at the very centre of all things,
Here at the meeting place of love and loss
We all foresee, and see beyond the cross.

5 Comments

Filed under imagination

5 responses to “Passion Sunday Gospel: The Anointing at Bethany

  1. Deborah Smyth

    So beautiful… so beautiful! Thank you.

  2. Zoe Myers

    Thank you – I/we need the reminder that what we offer to Christ might seem a “beautiful, useless gesture” but Jesus “recognises it as something that is always worth while.”

  3. Bren

    The fragrance of the words fills my senses, my heart is dancing!

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