As we are approaching Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, the Lectionary is following John through the last days of Christ’s life, and so today we get Mary anointing Jesus’s feet with perfume and wiping it away with her hair.
This is one of the more sensual of the Gospel stories – ‘the house is filled with the fragrance of the perfume’ is a lovely line, and while Mary’s actions are interpreted as anointing Jesus for the tomb, the lavishness of her actions, which would have been shocking to a contemporary observer, and not just because the expense of the perfume, speak to a love that has no boundaries and no thought of holding back.
This aria from Bach’s St Matthew Passion has a similar feel to it – it is sweet and lyrical and the words are open-hearted and passionate, and while the soloist is not singing the role of Mary, I wonder if the composer had her in mind when he wrote this aria.
I will give you my heart; sink yourself in it, my Salvation! I will submerge myself in you, and if the world is too small for you, ah, then for me alone shall you be more than both world and heaven.