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. 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. 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.) 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."
Love and Loss
Jesus knows! Mary feels. This is truly a heartwarming story of Jesus and his last days. Jesus has come to visit his friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus. We do not know how they became friends. That information is lost in history. They are three siblings about the same age as Jesus and as is often the case with family, each has a unique personality. We know the most about Martha and Mary. Martha is the kind of person who busies herself making sure everything is going smoothly. She cleans, she cooks, she makes sure everyone is being taken care of. And, she sometimes gets her knickers in a twist when her sister doesn't carry what she perceives as her share of the responsibilities.
Mary is the emotional one. She just wants to spend time with Jesus. She hangs on his every word. Mary expresses her love for Jesus by anointing him with costly oil and using her hair to wipe his feet. She loves her master and she really does not care what others think or say about her. She is totally focused on him. I get the sense that Mary also has a strong perception that the end is near for Jesus.
When Judas complains of Mary's wasteful ways, Jesus reprimands him and tells Judas that she is anointing him for his impending death. He, with a sadness in his voice reminds everyone that sometimes it is OK to use your time and treasure on things that some might consider frivolous.
We all value different things in our lives. At the end of April I am flying to Salt Lake City to visit my son and his family. It will cost several hundred dollars and that is money I could spend in other ways. Every Friday I counsel people who are living in poverty and some might say that my trip money would be better spent if I gave it to them instead.
I love my son and our grandchildren and even though it is an expense to visit them, my heart tells me that I should never lose that family connection. Someday I will be gone and I want them to remember me as the father and grandpa who was an important part of their lives.
Jesus was right. When he left this earth, poverty was still very present in the lives of many. The poor are still with us. Poverty has not and will probably never go away. We must never forget that caring for our brothers and sisters is important. Our relationships and our bonds with each other are important as well.