2018
custodia.org

The blessing of the oils at Bethany on Holy Monday

Holy Week in Jesus’ Land began in Bethany. On Holy Monday, it is tradition for the Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land to celebrate mass in the Church of St. Lazarus, a friend of Jesus along with Martha and Mary. In what the Father Custos defined as the “house of friendship,” six days before Easter, the perfume and the oils were blessed in commemoration of Mary’s gesture. As read in the Gospel, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, “took 300 grams of pure nard perfume, drizzled some on Jesus’ feet and then wiped them with her hair.”

The Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton in his homily, explained that “the gesture performed by Mary is a prophetic one that helps us to understand the deep value of friendship and helps us to interpret what Jesus will do in the hour of his Passion as an extreme gesture of friendship for us.” Fr. Patton focused on three concepts: friendship as a free and precious gift, friendship as a prophecy of life, and friendship as care for the poor. “In the perfume that is sprinkled on Jesus’ feet, there is a prophecy not of death, but of victory over death,” said Fr. Patton. “It represents his life given out of love that allows each of us to overcome death.” The Custos left a question to the faithful: we must ask ourselves how our deep our friendship with Jesus is—which leads us to resurrection.

After the homily, the blessing of the oils took place. “We bless the aromas and the nard,” read the deacon, Br. Ayman Batesh, “which remind us of the fragrance made for Jesus by Mary while he was still alive, the honor given to Jesus’ dead body by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus and the intention of the three women who brought aromas and perfumes to the empty tomb where the Lord’s body had been rested.” Starting in Bethany, the aromas and the perfume will be given out to the parishes and the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher, where on Good Friday the funeral procession will take place with the commemoration of Jesus’ death and burial.

Devotion and prayer followed a moment of brotherly communion, organized by the Franciscans of the monastery in Bethany and by the guardian, Br. Michael Sarquah. Dinner took place in a friendly atmosphere—reminiscent of the kind of feeling that Jesus brought to Bethany with Lazarus, Martha and Mary.

Beatrice Guarrera
27/03/2018

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