So what detail can Mark bring to the story of the anointing of Jesus by a woman, shortly before his betrayal and death?
We learn today that it happened in Bethany, at the house of Simon the leper, as a meal was being served.
We also learn that the woman anointed Jesus with what the King James Verrsion of the Bible calls “spikenard very precious” and that she poured it from an “alabaster box.”
Why are those details important? Mark explains because the ointment was so rare it could have been sold for a great deal of money – and some saw this as pure waste.
Now we are getting to it. This wonderful woman, still yet unnamed, took something she cherished – and selfishly poured it on the Lord’s head. We can see the scene, the kind look in the Lord’s eyes, the woman’s tears of devotion, the angry snarls on the face of those who hate him – and pretend to be offended that the poor could have been helped by selling the ointment – instead of “wasting” it on Jesus.
Where do we fit into that scene – two thousand years after it occurred?
Are we celebrating and adoring the Lord, as the woman did?
Are we tempted to say, “they have a point there. Too often the Church spends money in extravagant ways that could been better spent helping the poor?”
Are we somewhere in the middle – wanting to love God – but not knowing best way to do so – worship – or service to others?
Or are we missing the point? They didn’t really care about the Lord OR the poor – they just wanted him DEAD. Out of their way – must we confess – even if we wouldn’t be so cruel – there are times we wish the Lord and his pesky demands would just go away?
These are the questions the story places in our lap.
How do we answer?