Here is part of the Gospel for today, the Anointing of Jesus by Mary of Bethany: ‘Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at table with him. Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment’.

Here is St Augustine: ‘Mary, the other sister of Lazarus, took a pound of ointment of pure nard, very precious, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Such was the incident, let us look into the mystery it imported. Whatever soul of you wishes to be truly faithful, anoint like Mary the feet of the Lord with precious ointment. That ointment was righteousness, and therefore it was a pound weight: but it was ointment of pure nard [nardi pistici], very precious. From his calling it “pistici”, we ought to infer that there was some locality from which it derived its preciousness: but this does not exhaust its meaning, and it harmonises well with a sacramental symbol. The root of the word in the Greek is by us called faith. “You were seeking to work righteousness: the just shall live by faith”. Anoint the feet of Jesus: follow by a good life the Lord’s footsteps’.

As we follow the Lord on His journey, let us pray that in so following, we may be brought to increasing purity of heart. May we pour out our love for the Lord in these days by prayer and by deeds of charity, and may God bless you in this.