Holy and Great Wednesday: Camp Fires in Heaven

On Holy and Great Wednesday the Church remembers the woman who took the costly ointment and poured it out on Jesus’ feet. While mentioning that this woman was a harlot, it also mentions Judas’ betrayal; for, according to the account in Matthew, both of these deeds took place two days before the Passover, on Wednesday.

I remember the first time I heard this preached in the Orthodox Church. It was probably a dozen years ago. My priest and teacher spoke of the extravagant love that this woman had for Christ. He went on to say that only the extravagant love stories will be told around the camp fires in Heaven. He asked if we had that same kind of extravagant love for Jesus that she did? And he asked whether our story would be one of those spoken of around the camp fires. I still think about that and I preach it just exactly the way he did.

Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head, as he sat at table. But when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for a large sum, and given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body she has done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. Matthew 26:6-16

That woman, then, anointed Jesus’ head and feet with very precious myrrh, and wiped them with the tresses of her hair. The disciples, especially the avaricious Judas, were scandalized, supposedly because of the waste of the myrrh, which could be sold for a great price and given to the poor. The Lord Jesus reproved them and told them not to trouble the woman. Indignant, Judas went to the high priests, who were gathered in the court of Caiaphas and were already taking counsel against Jesus. On agreeing with them to betray his Teacher for thirty pieces of silver, Judas sought from that time opportunity to betray Him (Matt. 26:14-16). Because the betrayal took place on Wednesday, we have received the tradition from Apostolic times to fast on Wednesday throughout the year. (goarch.com)

Though I have outdone the harlot in sin, yet I have offered You no shower of tears. Rather, I fall before You fervently kissing Your spotless feet, praying silently that, as Master, You will remit my debts as I cry: “Savior, free me from the foulness of my deeds!” Kontakion

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1 Comment

Filed under Orthodox Christianity

One response to “Holy and Great Wednesday: Camp Fires in Heaven

  1. Lord have mercy. What a beautiful image of how to consider faithfulness.

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