Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him. 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 oil. Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions. So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came, not only because of Jesus, but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too, because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him.
The one who anoints Jesus’ feet in the Gospel of John is Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. All three are friends of Jesus. This Mary is not to be mixed up with Mary Magdalene, nor a sinful woman who anoints the feet of Jesus in the house of Simon the Pharisee, nor an unnamed woman who anoints Jesus in the house of Simon the Leper. The anointing expresses Mary’s loving gesture for the Master who has restored her brother Lazarus to life. The fragrance of the ointment signifies the abundance of affection. Contrast is made of a bad odor that would come from the grave of the dead Lazarus, as exposed by Martha (Jn 11:39) with the fragrance of life that Mary gives for the resuscitation of her brother. Another contrast is made with the objection of Judas. The juxtaposing of Mary’s abundant generosity, reflecting her great love, with the hypocritical objection of Judas reveals that a woman – not a disciple – has understood the significance of Jesus.
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2018,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 8957328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: