During the past week as I reflected on St Mark’s Passion narrative,(Ch 14 &15) which we heard at Mass this morning, my attention was drawn to the woman who broke the jar of ointment and poured it out on Jesus’ head – a very good symbol of our monastic contemplative way of life. St Mark tells us that she broke the jar and poured out the precious ointment while the disciples murmured and criticised her action as being wholly foolish and wasteful: “why this waste? Ointment like this could be sold and the money given to the poor! And they were angry with her.” We hear similar comments regarding our way of life: “why waste your life away within an enclosure apparently doing nothing while there is so much need in our modern world.” However Jesus praised the woman’s action saying: “leave her alone ……. You have the poor with you always …she has done what was in her power to do ….. wherever the Good News is proclaimed what she has done will be told also in remembrance of her.”

Jesus and the woman were looking at life from a different perspective, both understood each other, they had a deep contemplative vision which penetrated beyond the external appearances to the heart – in a word they were seeing from God’s point of view.

Later in chapter 14 Jesus is present at another meal when he will take bread saying: “take it, this is my Body” and he will take the cup saying: “this is my Blood which is poured out for you”.

The woman breaks the jar and does ‘what was in her power to do’ – she gives all! Jesus gives all he has – his Body and Blood – his very all and pours it out – ‘this is all I have and I give it.’ So too with us whatever we have it is enough for Jesus to take and transform. We remember the boy with the five loaves and two fish with which He fed the multitude. What Jesus seeks above all is my heart’s love – for if he has not got my heart, then no matter what else I give, He has got nothing!

As we enter into this Holy Week accompanied by Mary and the whole Church following Jesus on his way to Calvary and beyond to the Resurrection we may ask ourselves: “what do I have that I can break open and pour out?. This pouring out of our lives becomes Gospel and Good News – there are no limits to love. A monastery is a place where the Paschal Mystery is lived out and becomes a ‘Holy Preaching’ when our lives become Gospel and Good News for others – many of whom we will never meet or know in this life.

With the Prophet Isaiah in this morning’s first reading may we too be able to say:
“Each morning he wakes me to hear
to listen like a disciple.
The Lord has opened my ear”. (Is 50:4)