“Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him.” (John 12:1 – 2)
We know that Martha was an accomplished hostess. Like many women of her time, she could bustle around a kitchen cooking, roasting, sauteing while making sure that every guest was comfortable and well looked after. Lazarus would have looked out for everyone’s needs, especially Jesus’ since it was due only to him that Lazarus was alive! Martha too would have put out her best spread for Jesus who raised up her brother, and most probably her future, from the dead. Then there was Mary. Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet and let his words and teachings soak into her being.
“Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” (Verse 3)
I don’t know precisely about the customs of that time, but I suspect that most women who had reached womanhood kept their hair covered and contained. That she spun out her hair and performed such a menial tasks (washing of someone’s feet) with her “prized glory” (as a woman’s hair was often called) and expensive fragrance must have been a shock, and more, to some gathered there.
“But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) “ (Verses 4 – 6)
What do you give to the Divine, beloved reader? Do you pour your all into service to the Lord God? Do you “overspend” in time and energy when you fulfill your calling? Do sent aside your dignity and commit your resources in service to others?
I want you to be aware, beloved reader, that nard is a thick and fragrant oil. Jesus’ feet would have smelled “heavenly” and would have been made soft and supple because of the oil. It would have also oiled Mary’s hair, and would have made it shine. Oily but shiny.
“Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” (Verses 7 – 8)
Jesus’ comment was to remind Lazarus that not everything needs to be parsed out carefully and not all resources should be measured out so that there is plenty left. But I want you, beloved reader, to understand the analogy/metaphor I am seeking to make. Mary could have played it safe and been simply a cook and hostess for her brother’s dinner guests. She could have sat in a corner and listened to Jesus more. But she decided to commit her self and what resources as a single woman that she had. No thought for herself or what others would say, she acted. And she shone!
May you, beloved reader, commit yourself, your resources and your gifts to honor our Lord God! Selah!