Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” John 12:1-11 (NRSV)
We know how the story plays out, Mary first encountering the resurrected Christ, Judas betraying Jesus and taking his own life. It is convenient when characters turn out to be heroes and villains.
Of course, it doesn’t always (or even often) work out that way. We all know someone – we all, at times, are someone – who is a little bit over the top. Really? a POUND of perfume?! As well, we know and often are the bitter, holier-than-thou radical. When the pressure is on, as it must have been in that last Jerusalem week, those qualities can become even more exaggerated.
As we journey together in community, how do we make space for one another’s out-sized personalities and acting out? The truth of the matter is we need a dose of extravagance every now and again – just as much as we need the radical that holds us to account.
May we be quick to listen and slow to wrath.
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