We have so often heard the story of that evening dinner at Bethany that it has become a treasured memory from our past. We imagine ourselves staring across the table at Lazarus who had been four days in the tomb.
Martha’s sister Mary had left the room, and we had wondered about that. Then, we shared the shock of all the others when Mary came back with an expensive vessel of perfumed olive oil. Everyone pulled back, making room for Mary who seemed to be on a blessed mission.
When Mary began spilling the precious oil on the feet of Jesus it was such a bizarre action in a polite society, but Mary’s intent behavior was above questioning.
Well, Judas did question her spilling the expensive oil, but no one was taken in by his feigned interest in helping the poor.
Some people rose up as Mary began wiping Our Lord’s feet with her hair, but Jesus said, “Let her be, she is doing this for my burial.”
Scholars tell us that the feet of a living person were never anointed. Mary had apparently looked so deeply into Jesus. that she, and she alone, saw how he was submitting himself to death. That death was already on him, so Mary was not jumping the gun in anointing him for death.
In later years, as the Apostles went back over the way the house was filled with the fragrance of Mary’s precious oil, some were quoting an old saying that had Mary’s reputation spreading like a cloud of perfumed air. Others were saying that it was like the cloud of God’s presence that filled the Holy of Holies.