Then Mary took an extraordinary amount, almost three-quarters of a pound, of very expensive perfume made of pure nard. She anointed Jesus’ feet with it, then wiped his feet dry with her hair.”
Whether we like it or not, the Bible and Jesus has a lot to say about the role of money in our lives. One of the most commonly quoted lines in the Bible when it comes to money comes from the Gospel of Matthew. There is a specific part of the Sermon on the Mount dedicated to “treasures.” The author of Matthew has Jesus tell the crowd gathered (including us), “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:21 CEB).
When we read and hear the story of Martha’s Dinner party for Jesus, John 12:1-8, and all that happens, this other piece of scripture pops into my head. When Mary lavishly showers Jesus’ feet with the perfume worth an entire year’s wages, she puts wealth and treasure in their place: at the feet of Jesus. She shows us where her heart is by putting her treasure on the feet of Jesus.
Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Judas and Jesus’ exchange about “the poor.” The author of John tells us Judas brings up “the poor” to exact his own means. He wants more money and under the guise of being compassionate tries to line his own pockets with more cash (the opposite of what Mary is doing BTW). Jesus puts him in his place and we hear him say, “You will always have the poor among you…” (John 12:8a CEB).
This phrase has been used throughout time as a reason not to help others. In essence we hear Jesus saying, “You don’t need to help the poor; they are going to be there either way.” And it gives us an excuse to focus on ourselves. But the fact of the matter is when we do that we are acting more like Judas and less like Mary. We are concerned more with the lining of our own pockets than with putting wealth and money in its place: at the feet of Jesus. Because the thing is the feet of Jesus don’t stay in one place.
The thing is the feet of Jesus don’t stay in one place. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus’ feet were crossing boundaries. They were going places and talking with people he shouldn’t. People ostracized, people marginalized, people chastised by their community. His feet went to “the poor.” When we act like Mary and put our treasure where our heart is, at the feet of Christ, it might travel away from our pockets and into places where it can help bring life where there is none.
Might we less like Judas, portraying a facade of caring of others, and more like Mary who gave abundantly without pause. May we put our treasure where our heart is. AMEN