April 3 Edevotional
I’m reflecting on the story of Jesus’ friend, Mary, (of the family Martha, Mary, and Lazarus) coming to the table where Jesus and his disciples are having dinner, bending down at Jesus’ feet and pouring expensive burial oil over his feet, washing them, and drying his feet with her hair. There must have been silence at that table when this was going on. Were her hands shaking as she did this bold act? Had she been planning it when she heard Jesus was coming, or was it a spur-of-the-moment act? Was it a wild impulse that came over her when she saw her brother Lazarus—recently come back from the dead—eating and drinking with Jesus and his friends, while confronting the image in her heart of Jesus being put to death? Was this what Jesus had taught her when she had been at his feet months ago, listening and discussing while sister Martha was in the kitchen, fussing and fuming? Had he told Mary what he saw coming? Had he told her that his way of a revolution of love was going to lead to more complaints brought against him, a trial, and a planned assassination?
Mary, I want to get inside of her this morning. Feel and understand what is going on in her. It is such a bold, inappropriate, expensive, intimate, generous, over-the-top move, what she does at that dinner table. It reminds me of last Sunday’s story of the “Mad Dad” (usually called Prodigal Son). The dad of Jesus’ parable is over-the-top lavish, generous—-to a fault, some people might say—spoiling, foolish, even enabling in the AlAnon sort of way, not thinking of his own grief, embarrassment, even shame that his son caused. What are you doing? It’s not fair, says the elder son. Mary is criticized also for her bold move. One of the disciples asks why she wasted so much costly oil, when instead she could have sold it and given the money to charity, to the Food Pantry, to UMCOR, to something. Isn’t that what Jesus had been teaching them? To give rather than receive?
Jesus recognizes in Mary’s act, the deep, deep love that has overcome her. If the complaining disciple had the same kind of love in giving money to the poor, maybe he would not have responded
the way that he did. 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.” (John 12)
I pray for that kind of love, the kind that leaves me shaking, bold, courageous, over-the-top generous and lavish. So much that people will say, “Look at her. Look at them. Look what she’s doing. It’s rather foolish. I want some of that.”