“Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfumed oil.” (John 12:3)
When we first meet Mary and Martha in the Gospels, Martha is busy in the kitchen while her sister, Mary, sits at the feet of Jesus. In today’s Gospel reading Jesus once again dines with them in Bethany. Since this visit comes after Jesus raised their brother Lazarus from the dead, we can imagine Martha worked long and hard in the kitchen preparing a special feast. We don’t hear any complaining from her this time, just “Martha served.”
On this Monday of Holy Week, we remember Mary’s act of fragrant worship anointing the feet of Jesus with costly perfume. I’d like to imagine Martha sitting next to her with a towel (so nothing stained the carpet.)
Sometimes I resonate more with Martha – getting things done, cooking in the kitchen, a make-it-happen person. Other times, I aspire to be like Mary – sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to His words, basking in His presence, wiping His feet with fragrant worship.
Navigating our lives of faith, it’s really both and, not either or. Mary made a gesture of costly worship, but consider Martha’s intrinsic role in the household. If Mary blew a whole year’s worth of wages, wouldn’t Martha have a say in it? In a sense, this sacrificial act of worship came from both of them, but in different ways.
Just like at times our acts of costly worship can take different forms – changing diapers, care-giving, teaching, leading a team, studying, reaching out to colleagues (even irascible ones), giving of ourselves (our presence & presents), spending time in prayer and adoration (even when we’re slammed), laying down our lives for others.
All we do can be acts of worship, costly perfume, if we offer them up to Jesus and do them with the fragrance His extravagant love.
Virginia : )
“We have three things to do…Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.” I Corinthians 13:13 (The Message)