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.” When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Christian singer and songwriter, Darlene Zschech, wrote the following message in the liner notes of one of her albums, “I long to be an extravagant worshiper…that God would discover the song in my heart to be elaborate, over-generous and wasteful in my pursuit of Him.” Her words could easily be inspired by Mary’s actions in today’s gospel!
Jesus finds himself in Bethany in the company of good friends—Mary who has spent endless amounts of time sitting at his feet, Martha who has served with her whole heart, and their brother Lazarus who is alive again.
Surely they had heard the murmuring among the chief priests and Pharisees who were plotting to arrest Jesus. Did they know this would be the last time sharing a meal with Jesus in their home? Mary holds nothing back and pours out everything she has for Jesus. In a precursor to Jesus’ death and burial, Mary anoints him in the most extravagant, elaborate, over-generous, and wasteful sort of way. Jesus does need this kind of affection, and yet, his relationship with Mary evokes this incredibly generous response.
As we enter into this final week of Lent, where has the journey taken you? What would it look like to be over-generous in our prayer, our fasting, and our almsgiving? What more can I do for Christ— in offering forgiveness, extending generosity to the poor, and entering into prayer during this Holy Week?
Lord, I long to be an extravagant worshiper, to make a generous response in my relationship with you.
—Beth Knobbe is an author and ministry professional based in Chicago, IL. She blogs at www.bethknobbe.com .
Teach me how to be compassionate to the suffering, to the poor, the blind, the lame, and the lepers. Show me, My Jesus, how you revealed your deepest emotions, as when you shed tears, or when you felt sorrow and anguish to the point of sweating blood and needed an angel to console you.
Above all, I want to learn how you supported the extreme pain of the cross, including the abandonment of your Father.
—Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J.
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