H/T: Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver (here)
Homily for Holy Wednesday
Anoint the Lord’s Feet by Living a Life of Righteousness
By Blessed Augustine, Bishop of Hippo (+AD 430)
Lazarus was one of them that reclined at the table, lest men think that he was a ghost because he had risen from the dead. He was living, speaking, eating. The truth was made manifest, and the unbelief of the Jews was confounded. Jesus, therefore, reclined at table with Lazarus and the others. Martha, one of the sisters of Lazarus, was serving. But Mary, the other sister of Lazarus, “took a pound of ointment, genuine nard, very precious, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet dry with her hair. And the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.” We have heard the facts, let us look into the mystery it imported.
Whatever soul of you wishes to be truly faithful, anoint like Mary the feet of the Lord with precious ointment. That ointment was righteousness, and therefore it was exactly a pound weight. Moreover it was ointment of pure nard, nardi pistici, very precious. From the Apostle John in his Gospel calling it pistici, we ought to infer that there was some locality from which it derived its
Now, the root of the word pistici means “pure” or “genuine” in the Greek. But this does not exhaust its meaning, for the word pistici has a further meaning, and it harmonizes well with a sacramental symbol. The Greek pistis means fides in Latin; that is to say, “faith.”
Do you seek to act justly? Well, the “just man lives by faith” (Romans 1:17). Anoint the feet of Jesus: that is, follow by a the Lord’s footsteps by living virtuously.
Wipe His feet with your hair: if you have surplus goods, give them to the poor. In this way you dry the Lord’s feet with your hair, for hair would seem to be nonessential, or superfluous, to the body; indeed we cut it off and shave it off.
Here is something to do with your superfluous goods. What is superfluous to you, is necessary for the feet of the Lord. Perhaps on this earth the Lord’s feet may be in suffering want. And where are the Lord’s feet: they are the lowly, the poor man who is in want.
On the Last Day Christ will say, “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of mine, you did it unto me” (Matthew 25:40). Of whom will He be speaking, if not of His own members, indeed of His feet, of the poor and the hungry, and the naked, and those sick and in prison? May He say to us, “While spending your surplus you have done a service to my feet.”“And the house was filled with the odor.”
That is, the world is filled with the the Good News, the Gospel, for the report of good is a good aroma.
Those who live wickedly while bearing the name of “Christian” do injury to Christ. It is said that because of them the name of the Lord is blasphemed (Romans 2:24). But if through such God’s name is blasphemed, then through the good man the name of the Lord is praised and honored. Listen to the words of the Apostle, when he says, “We are the fragrance of Christ in every place, both in them that are saved, and in them that perish. To the one we are the savor of life unto life, to the other the savor of death unto death: and who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16). As it is said also in the Song of Songs, “Your name is as ointment poured forth (Song of Songs 1:3).