What words do you use to describe a prophet?
Forth-teller of God’s dream for the world?
And what examples would you offer as prophets?
Isaiah - that we heard today?
I offer you Mary as a prophet, a different type of prophet, a sensual prophet who speaks without saying a word. The response of those around her is not unusual. We are
uncomfortable with prophets. We are often uncomfortable with our
bodies, uncomfortable with sensuality and sexuality in the realm of the holy. This sensual image of a woman anointing and massaging the feet of Jesus with her hair is poetic in its genuine response to Christ; it is sensitive, tender and gentle.
Our response to the gospel today must be one of shock, scandal. Why the scandal?
By anointing Jesus Mary takes on the role of prophet. Since prophets anointed kings, her action would have been understood immediately as a prophetic recognition of Jesus as king.
There is more, Mary understands the vision of the kingdom as suffering love and service, not kingly rule and glory. She anoints his body for death. The gospel reader is alert to this and can sense that it is a tense atmosphere; Jesus is about two miles out of Jerusalem and the leaders are plotting to kill him.
The shock and scandal against Mary the prophet is also because of the extravagance of her gift. Jesus rejects the reactions against her anointing of him and thus provides as a model of discipleship, a disciple and discipler.
1 Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6 (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”