Scripture: John 12:1-8, CEB
Six days before Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, home of Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Lazarus and his sisters hosted a dinner for him. Martha served and Lazarus was among those who joined him at the table. Then Mary took an extraordinary amount, almost three-quarters of a pound, of very expensive perfume made of pure nard. She anointed Jesus’ feet with it, then wiped his feet dry with her hair. The house was filled with the aroma of the perfume. Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), complained, “This perfume was worth a year’s wages! Why wasn’t it sold and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief. He carried the money bag and would take what was in it.)
Then Jesus said, “Leave her alone. This perfume was to be used in preparation for my burial, and this is how she has used it. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you won’t always have me.”
I am moved and encouraged by the way in which Jesus manifested His ministry of justice, love and equity in favor of marginalized people - among them, women, whom He exalted as examples worthy of emulation. Mary of Bethzaida always chose the better part: turning her attention to Jesus, listening to Him lying at His feet. On this occasion, she stripped herself of the most valuable thing she possessed in an attitude of love, gratitude and exuberant adoration of Jesus. I think her action showed Jesus that, at last, someone-a woman-had understood His mission, and who He really was! And He rebuked Judas Iscariot for belittling the woman's action; and, therefore, belittling to WHOM such a love offering was directed.
Judas' motives were far from worshipping Jesus, much less serving the poor. His criticism was rooted in greed. But, Mary emptied the perfume at Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair, because the presence and relationship with Jesus had so transformed her life, that she was willing to withhold nothing to demonstrate her love and devotion to Jesus. I imagine that Jesus experienced in His flesh and heart such delightful sensations that were of great encouragement to face the inevitable later in the week. (Think of how you feel after having your feet massaged after returning from a long walk). Mary unknowingly prepared Jesus' body for burial in the most exuberant way she could, a preparation worthy of the King of kings.
We are at the beginning of Holy Week, on the way to the cross. Let us reflect on the following questions:
In what circumstances have I thought and acted like Judas? What have been my feelings and motivations?
What do I have to let go of to allow the Lord of Lords to enter my life?
What can I learn from Mary's action?
How can I apply that learning to the service of Jesus this week? What is Jesus calling me to do today?
Suggestion: Conclude your reflections with a prayer, or a letter to Jesus, or a drawing, or a song.
Giving the best we have and are, in exuberant worship to our Savior and Redeemer, is never a waste of time; it is investing in the Kingdom of God here on earth, today and now.
Lord Savior and Redeemer, I invite You once again into my life. I beg You to forgive me and cleanse me with Your purifying blood of all that prevents me from giving You the place You deserve; to withhold nothing in offering of love and gratitude, because You loved me first, even when I did not know You. During this week I want to spend more time with You at Your feet, as Mary did; to have a more intimate relationship with You, to love You and give You all my adoration in an exuberant attitude, to do Your will, and to serve You. Amen.