God places a premium on humility and love.


What is the significance of the woman washing Jesus’ feet with her hair? Mary of Bethany gladly poured out a year’s salary on Jesus’ feet. Martha joyfully spared no labor or expense to throw a large banquet for Jesus.By acquiring expensive perfume, anointing His feet and wiping them with her hair, she displayed devotion and humility to the one she loved deeply and sincerely. God places a premium on humility and love.
Why did Mary ‘waste’ this perfume on Jesus rather than keep it for herself, or better still, sell it and give the money to the poor? She must have come to understand deep within her heart the truth of Jesus that He is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creatures; that all was created through Him and for Him. Out of this knowledge grew her desire to give everything back to God, the giver of all good things. Nothing, as far as Mary was concerned, was worth more than Jesus.

But Judas saw things differently. He didn’t give to Jesus. Instead, he took from Jesus. He took Jesus’ money, helping “himself to what” others gave to Jesus. Judas took all the lessons Jesus lovingly taught His disciples during the last precious days of His life, which we call Holy Week, and trashed them. That’s because Judas spent Holy Week “looking for an opportunity to hand [Jesus] over” instead of listening to Jesus.
Today’s Gospel is a scene of stark contrasts, displaying the best and the worst in men. Mary’s act of genuine love for Jesus elicited a response of false charity for the poor from Judas. The chief priests resolved that the man, whom Jesus had raised to life, should die. Lazarus’ very presence was a cold slap in the face to them. How could they deny that Jesus was the Messiah, when He had raised a man from the dead? They couldn’t dismiss this event as a trick. The fragrance of the perfume filled the air, but so did the vile odor of envy and hatred from the chief priests, who plotted the death of Jesus and Lazarus. The irony is not lost on us that in the midst of the festivities, in the presence of the person He brought back to life, Jesus would predict His own death by saying, “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.”

Even today, Christianity can make wicked men so angry, that they act as if they hoped to win a victory over God, Himself. But, when things look their blackest, when we are most under attack, our faith, hope and love will always be victorious over the kind of hate and prejudice, as swirled around Jesus till the day He died. As Mary poured on Jesus the oil of humility, let us pour on Him the ointment of our best affections, our faith, hope and love.

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