John's Gospel -a new look no 19: The Anointing of Jesus.
Jesus is visiting the home of his friends Martha, Mary and Lazarus. It has been an emotion filled time with the death and bringing alive of Lazarus and the attempts by the Chief Priests and Pharisees to kill Jesus. Now as Jesus prepares for his return to Jerusalem and the problems he will encounter there, he visits with his friends who live in Bethany just a few miles outside the city.
His disciples are with him as Martha serves the supper that they have prepared. Mary is serving in a different way by anointing the feet of their friend. She is using expensive oil and then wipes his feet with her hair. This would be a strange act in today’s world. In the time of Jesus washing a visitor’s feet was a sign of hospitality and friendship. Here it is an act of devotion and love that filled more than the room with its fragrance.
Judas objects under the pretext that the oil can be sold and the money used to help the poor. The real reason, John points out is however that Judas had his eye on the money as he was a thief. It is interesting to see that Judas later betrays Jesus for the same amount of money.
Jesus recognizes this act of love for what it is and brushes Judas’s objections aside. There is time to sacrifice to help the poor but there is also time to worship Jesus. Sometimes the two are intertwined.