HOMILY FOR MONDAY OF HOLY WEEK
What image comes into your mind when you hear the word worship? Church? Kneeling? Singing? The English dictionary says worship is: the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for God.
Not a bad definition. It’s one we are comfortable with. When we come to church to enter a service we want to express our reverence and adoration to God. But is worship simply expressing our reverence and adoration to God? And what does that look like?
The problem with the dictionary definition is that it is too weak – and it’s not the meaning of worship in the Bible.
The New Testament word for worship is: pros-koo-neh’-o.
It means: to kiss the hand to (towards) one in token of reverence.
That gets a little more serious doesn’t it. We come to church in order to ‘kiss the hand’ of God – or the priest!!! But there is more.
The word comes from a derivative meaning to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand.
Complete and total submission!
This is what Mary does in our Gospel reading to Jesus. Mary has been on an emotional rollercoaster. Firstly, she saw her brother get ill. Secondly, she and her sister Martha send for their friend Jesus – but he does not come straight away and her brother dies. She is in despair. But then Jesus arrives and she dares to hope – and then Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead – Mary sees the ultimate miracle – the giving back of life to one whom was irreversibly dead!!
And how does she respond? She responds, as she should – with complete and utter submission to Jesus Christ. She comes and gives EXTRAVAGANT worship.
And Judas knows its extravagant! Its almost a years salary being poured out on Jesus. She is wiping his feet with her hair. What opposites – here is Mary giving everything to Jesus and Judas, who is very detached, unimpressed and even critical of Mary’s actions is the one who takes away from Jesus.
Jesus is cutting with Judas – Leave her alone.
The contrast between the generosity of Mary and the selfishness of Judas is stinging. Judas does not recognize what worship is. He does not understand what it is to truly come close to kiss, like a dog licking its masters hand as Mary has done. He is calling true worship a waste. Here we have a glimpse into how far Judas’ heart is from the Lord. This extravagant action of love was something Judas could not comprehend.
But Mary does understand.
Mary pours her extravagant worship out upon Jesus. She has no care for what it looks like – she has no concern about what people are thinking. She has no care whether it is appropriate or not to let her hair down like a prostitute would in public, or a wife in the private intimacy of being with her husband.
She gives no concern at the cost – to her reputation or financially – at her worship.
Each one of us come to church every week as one who was irreversibly dead but who, by the word and power of Jesus Christ have been made alive.
What would happen if came to church ready to give God extravagant worship and praise? What would happen if we came to church not caring what our worship cost us – whether personally or financially – What would happen if we came to church like a dog ready to kiss our masters hand?
It would change us beyond recognition – it would transform us.
But we can only do this if we truly, and deeply know and receive what Jesus did for us on the cross. When we have reached the point of knowing the reality of what Jesus accomplished for US – then we will willingly, with joy, want to come and give him extravagant worship.