Mary’s extraordinary act

Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, “Christ at Supper with Simon the Pharisee”:

What would move Mary to take a large bottle of perfume worth what today would be at least $30,000, pour it out onto Jesus feet, and then wipe it with her hair? Judas’s reaction only seems unreasonable to us because he is Judas: “Why wasn’t this given to the poor?” Jesus responds by saying something curious: “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.”

The context is important here. Jesus is about to enter Jerusalem, and probably knows that in so doing he is setting in motion his own crucifixion. Set in these terms, what is $30,000 in comparison to the value of the forgiveness of the sins of the whole world? Mary’s gift was to appreciate who Jesus was and what he was about: forgiveness and redemption.

That our personal sins have been forgiven, and that our lives are in the process of being redeemed, is great cause for celebration today. Don’t let the needs of the moment, even if they be the poor among us, obscure the centrality of living in and living out the forgiveness and redemption of Christ.


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