Jesus was at Bethany visiting the house of Simon, who had a skin disease. During dinner, a woman came in with a vase made of alabaster and containing very expensive perfume of pure nard. She broke open the vase and poured the perfume on his head. Some grew angry. They said to each other, “Why waste the perfume? This perfume could have been sold for almost a year’s pay[a] and the money given to the poor.” And they scolded her.
Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you make trouble for her? She has done a good thing for me. You always have the poor with you; and whenever you want, you can do something good for them. But you won’t always have me. She has done what she could. She has anointed my body ahead of time for burial. I tell you the truth that, wherever in the whole world the good news is announced, what she’s done will also be told in memory of her.”
[a] Or three hundred denaria; a denarion was equivalent to a day’s pay.
Mark 14:3-9, Common English Bible (c) 2011
I suspect, more often than not, we are like the guests in this story: we think we have a better idea for what to do with someone else’s “treasure.”
But the story is not about perfume or treasure. It is about a woman’s willingness to give away something precious without regard to financial cost. Not only does the woman at Bethany act with extravagant generosity, she displays extraordinary kindness. She willingly risked scorn in order to love lavishly.
It makes us nervous, causes us to question her motives. We might even come up with a few cruel one-liners to zing her way.
Jesus says, “Back off.” Her extraordinary kindness, extravagant generosity, and lavish love are genuine and welcome.
We would do well to imitate her actions.
-Teressa Clark, 2012, 2019
Lenten Reflections 2019: Following Jesus from the Mount of Olives to the Tomb ~ Day 23