Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Woman who anointed Jesus

Yesterday was Tuesday in Holy Week; at our evening Voices of Eve liturgy we remembered and celebrated the anonymous (to us!) Woman Who Anointed Jesus.

Our conversation afterwards got onto a different track, so I'll write a couple more theological pieces now.

"Zadok the Priest and Nathan the Prophet anointed Solomon king!" Members of the temple hierarchy and theological establishment – both guys – anointed Solomon king to reign in glory and live in palatial opulence. They anointed Solomon king within the recognized, reputable and totally expected imperial structure, within the humanly established order of earthly affairs. Jesus talked about "Solomon in all his glory!"

In that society, in that religious culture, prophets, priests, and kings were anointed with oil poured onto their heads; in that time and place, the only feet that got anointed were the feet of dead people, of corpses. At the house of a leper, the dwelling of a person wholly marginalized by society, a woman nameless to us anointed Jesus not to reign in life but anointed Jesus to his death, a dying in the glory of the cross. A woman – someone with no part in the entire Temple array, one who never could be a priest because of gender and caste – anointed Jesus, way outside of legitimately sanctioned and reputable arrangements and expectations, according to worldly reason and logic, but right within God’s upside down, illegitimate order, God's own scheme that invalidates and inverts most people's imaginings of what should be! The Way of the Cross ... the Divinely established order of human affairs.

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