John 12:1-11 NRSVue
1Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him. 3Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’s feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5“Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6(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.) 7Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”
9When 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. 10So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, 11since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.
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Some thoughts on this scripture
The generosity of Mary appeared wasteful and misplaced. Mary knew that Jesus was worthy of her honour and service, even when it cost. She was not held back by the judgements of others. We mihgt allow moments of prayer this week to reach the zones within us where tolerance, healing and forgiveness is needed.
This Sabbath is a moment of light and grace. In imagination I join the synagogue congregation, and hear this charismatic young man speaking the prophecy of Isaiah as his own mission statement. As I listen, I sense with excitement that he is reaching out to me to join him.
Lord, let me be part of that unending mission, to bring good news, vision and freedom to those who need them.
As we sit with the gospel we often see and hear that it is 'good news'. Luke notes for us that with the gospel the spirit anoints, freedom is announced to people who are stuck, blind people see, and the year of God's goodness is announced. Jesus announces to his own people that the good news of God is not just words, but a person - himself. The good news might be summed up that we are all children of God, that we are all brothers and sisters and that evil does not finally prevail in the world. Imagine that on the newspaper banners around the city! Can you recall moments and times when the gospel words lifted your heart, calmed fears, renewed hope and refreshed your whole life? Then it is good news and the good news is Jesus in your life. Give thanks for good news.
Just like the scent of ointment or a fragrance fills a house or a space, the love of god fills our atmosphere. We live in an ecology of God's love. Prayer is a time of living in the fragrance and the scent of God. It is gentle, light and lasts long. It comes off us; if we live in love, we spread love, and others know that something deep in us gives a fragrance to all of our life.
Mary was able to be extravagant and generous and was not held back by the opinions of those around her. I can reflect her generosity and God's goodness to me by how I share my property, my goodwill, my love and my forgiveness.