MARY, THE FAITHFUL ONE
33 AD – Sabbath Anointment – Bethany, Judea
Late in the afternoon, Simon’s household and guests gathered again for the final meal of the Sabbath. As Mary watched Jesus conversing and laughing with her father, brother and the others around their table, she longed to do something special for him.
“Mary, you are in love with him,” whispered Mariam. “I see it every time you watch my son.”
“I do love him, Mariam. But I know he has a task to do and that I… ah, I…” She could not finish her thought. She sighed inside. “What can I do for him?”
“Let the Lord Almighty guide you, Mary.”
Mary closed her eyes and before she could phrase a petition, the image of the alabaster perfume vial popped into her mind. She wasn’t sure what to make of it until the story of Samuel anointing David with essence oil also came to mind. Her eyes opened wide with understanding. She sprung up to her feet, surprising the women of her table. She quickly dashed out of the dining room followed by some of her companions who were confused by her abrupt action.
“Where are you going, Mary?” Joanne asked.
Mary explained what she intended. Joanne and the others nodded with enthusiasm. Mary went in and retrieved the bottle. When she returned to the dining room, she found that Jesus was lounging on his side talking to her father, Simon and Lazarus. She paused just at the threshold hesitating. She looks down at her hands, at the slender white alabaster jar with the golden stopper. Taking a deep breath, she then walked over to Jesus caressing the jar over her heart.
The whole room quieted down as she nervously approached where Jesus lounged. She looks down and no words were exchanged. Jesus nodded ever so slightly to her. She was encouraged. She gracefully knelt and unstoppered the jar. The aromatic perfume filled the room. It had that distinctive aroma of pure nard. She poured some on his head and her fingers gently combed it into his hair. The other women then sounded a wavering, high-pitched tongue sound which they do as a sign of honor and celebration. Mary then poured some on Jesus’ feet and used her long hair to gently wipe them.
Abruptly, Judas Iscariot stood up quite indignantly speaking out loud.
“What is this waste? We could have sold this perfume for three hundred denarii and used the money to feed a multitude of poor.”
“Let her alone. Why do you bother her so?” Jesus said calmly. “You will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. Mary has done a good deed to me. For when she poured this perfume on me, she was preparing me for burial. I tell you all the truth that wherever this gospel is preached in the world, what she did for me will be spoken of in memory of her.” [Matthew 26:8-13; John 12:4-8]
That night, Mary and some of the women were summoned to meet him at roof deck. He asked them to join him next to a hot brazier to fend off the chill in the air.
“My sisters, in the morn, I will go to the Temple for the week long Passover Feast. Much will happen that will cause much tears. You must hold on to your faith.”
The women wanted to ask more but Jesus would not say more. They spent the next hour in prayer and singing some Psalms. When they were leaving, Jesus asked Mary to stay.
“Mary, I have a favor to ask. I would appreciate it, if you would stay with my mother during this week. She will be staying with kin in the old part of the city. She will need your strength.”
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