The context of this story in Mark 14:1-11 emerges from Jesus call to be alert and watchful, for the Son of Man is coming in glory. Chapter 13 ends with the strong imperative ‘Watch!’
And so we watch.
And what we see emerge in the storyline is a grubby scene of religious leaders caught up in ugly politics, scheming to buy a cheap and pragmatic peace.
The whispered conversations in dark and smoky rooms of intrigue contrast sharply with the picture of Jesus reclining at dinner with friends.
Watch also, to see the religious leaders, responsible for leading the community in the Feast of Passover, commemorating exodus and liberation, plotting covert operations, illegal arrest and detention, judicial corruption, prisoner exchange, torture and execution.
While Jesus is at the house of a leper, welcoming him into community, freeing him from his isolation, practicing liberation right to the end.
Who is honouring the Feast most effectively?
It seems to me that the ritual of the Feast finds its truest fulfilment in the actions of Jesus.
How often during this Lent have I purchased cheap and easy peace by the sacrifice of some innocence?
How often during this Lent have I observed a manner of ritual but denied it in the ordinary actions of work and relationships at table or at play.