Starved for Touch
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. —John 12:3
She doesn’t get credit for it, but Jesus’ friend Mary of Bethany (the sister of Martha and Lazarus, not Mary Magdalene) might very well be the person who gave Jesus the idea of washing his apostles’ feet. It was just a few days after she performed this loving act for him that he did something similar for his apostles.
There is a group in my area called the Care Through Touch Institute which offers massages to homeless people throughout the year and does foot-washings and foot massages in particular on Holy Thursday. One of their volunteers told me how holy and sacramental it is to wash feet, clip toenails, and give massages to people whom our society usually ignores. She talks of how most recipients are so starved of physical touch that they break down and weep when touched respectfully and lovingly. I can easily imagine modern-day Judases finding fault with the special care and attention given to these “outcasts.” I can also easily imagine Jesus reminding anyone who protests, “Leave them alone … Whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters you do for me.”
FOR ACTION: After a year of practicing social distancing, many more people are isolated and starved of physical touch. Even if you can’t be in physical contact with a person in need today, how might you shower him/ her with an extravagant gift like Mary did for Jesus?