The woman had fallen into many sins, O Lord,
yet when she perceived Your divinity,
she joined the ranks of the Myrrhbearing Women.
In tears she brought You myrrh before Your burial.
She cried, "Woe is me!
For I live in the night of licentiousness,
shrouded in the dark and moonless love of sin.
But accept the fountain of my tears,
O You Who gathered the waters of the sea into clouds.
Bow down Your ear to the sighing of my heart,
O You Who bowed the heavens in Your ineffable condescension.
Once Eve heard Your footsteps in paradise in the cool of the day,
and in fear she ran and hid herself.
But now I will tenderly embrace those pure feet
and wipe them with the hair of my head.
Who can measure the multitude of my sins,
or the depth of Your judgments, O Saviour of my soul?
Do not despise Your servant in Your immeasurable mercy."
-- the nun Cassia, from Holy Wednesday Matins, Aposticha, tone 8 (as translated in The Feasts of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, vol. ii, by Catherine Aslanoff).
The male gender did not present itself well on Holy Week.
This was contrary to the bluster and braggadocio of cheap vows like, "Though all should abandon You, not I. I am ready to go with You even to prison and death."
But it is well known what happened. Braggadocio withers and bluster evaporates in the shadow of the prince of darkness, and the Suffering Servant stands alone, with the blooded sweat drops still on His brow.
We should have known. This should not have come as a surprise. Cheap vows are the lingua franca of all mortal princes, even blue-collar fisherman types. We beer-swilling good ol' boys who shoot and fish and play on the fields, and arrange deals in sweaty locker rooms and suspect that a lot of rape accusations are just made up -- we think we know how the world turns, and we assume we speak the language of substance and realistic thinking.
But it turns out that those heads of houses fall apart when real darkness falls. Leadership, all leadership, turns into blind guides at the full prospect of the horror of death, where there is no possibility of battlefield heroics, no room for chivalry or knights-in-armor myth.
Good Friday is the blasted terrain of bare, sheer, unmitigated fear, and the self-potent male psychology falls apart.
And thus, there is only one male left standing, and He is the Son of Man.
So against the ludicrous myth of empty courage, one who loves much because she is forgiven much enters and breaks open an irreplaceable, prodigal gift.
The males are incensed, for the trajectory of meekness always scandalizes the customs of self-esteem. One of the more intellectual males who were watching and were mightily offended -- a profound and cultured blogger had he the technology, a degreed and published academic had he the university, a utilitarian and minimalist iconoclast had he the modernism -- took the opportunity to claim the straw that broke the camel's back, and high-tailed it to the Savior-sale (30 silvers, sold).
A manly thing to do.
But there with the woman, who never had a chance in the courtroom ... the aroma of sacrifice fills the temple of feet-washing like incense. The Myrrh of Bethlehem and the Myrrh of Sepulchre reappear in the Story.
Here, there is courage of a different sort. Here there is the charism of complete openness and regard. Here there is the simplicity of heart: no mask, no false persona, no agenda, no deals, no game, no script.
Here, in the space left open by the absence of the worldly mask, there is recognition of Divinity, and the Divinity that is Love.
Here there is the sheer, bare, umitigated face-to-Face of tears, perfume, unbridaled hair ...
and the Feet of Him Who preached, and now will Become, the Good News.