Isaiah 42:1-7; John 12:1-11
What an interesting dinner party! We have Lazarus, who had recently died and was resurrected by Jesus. There is Martha, his sister, who had been given the opportunity to define what was really important by Jesus. Then comes Mary, another sister, who all along had particular devotion toward Jesus and insight into his ministry and purpose. Simon is there, who had been healed of leprosy by Jesus. The disciples were present, still not having a clue what was about to happen to Jesus. And among them was Judas, already in the midst of betraying Jesus, setting him up for arrest and crucifixion. Jesus must have looked around the room in amazement at the group that was surrounding him---so many pieces of an unbelievable puzzle that had not yet fully come together.
The star of this drama, of course, was Jesus and the lead supporting actress was, once again, Mary. In the midst of this diverse group having dinner and interacting with one another, Mary pulls out a vial of very expensive oil and proceeds to anoint Jesus’ feet, wiping them off with her hair. This oil was meant to refresh and to exhilarate, and was seen as a high compliment in the Middle East. Judas, who interestingly enough, was the financial manager for Jesus and his disciples, complained bitterly about Mary throwing away money for this oil when it could have been used to help the poor. Jesus, in understanding both the heart of Judas in his betrayal and Mary, in her devotion, used this as yet another opportunity to help prepare his followers for what was to come. He knew that Mary acted out of a selfless love, at great financial cost, to do only what she could do. He understood that Mary was using this oil to anoint him, not after his death in an act of remembrance, but before his death in an act of worship and devotion. He transformed that simple act into one that far transcended the reality of that moment. He knew that Mary had foresight about his upcoming death and the meaning of that sacrifice more than anyone else in that room.
Mary had foresight and acted in selfless love and devotion, doing only what she could at that moment. We have the value of hindsight, knowing how Christ died, why he died and what that means for us in our daily lives. What kinds of acts of selfless devotion are we offering up to Christ, even with our advantage of hindsight? For us, it’s not oil... it's sharing our time, our resources, and our gifts. .. . all in the name of Jesus. An act of devotion and love toward Jesus can simply be giving of ourselves, which is miraculously transformed into all that Jesus asks of us. During these last few days of Lent, open your hearts to the many opportunities we have, in essence, to anoint the feet of Jesus.
By Michele Millard