The other day, I talked about Paul’s abandonment of reputation-seeking in response to Jesus’ invitation to relationship. It’s a story related to an act of devotion that happened less than a decade before Paul’s decision.
There was a party to celebrate the resurrection of Lazarus. Jesus was the special guest. Martha was hosting. Lazarus was there, talking to Jesus.
In the part of the dinner when people were talking and listening to Jesus and having a good time, Mary got up from her place and got a container of perfume and poured it on Jesus’ feet and, rather than using a towel to clean it up, got so low to the ground that she used her hair.
Judas gave voice to the thoughts of at least some others: “Is this the best use of money?”
Because it wasn’t. Even if you weren’t an embezzler, this was a poor use of money. The perfume could have been sold. Mary could have earned a million points for serving.
If the use of money is to earn points.
But what if Mary was grateful to the only man who ever treated her with respect, treated her as a person, listened to her, wept with her, defended her, and then raised her brother from the dead. What if she was so grateful that being reasonable and earning points was the last thing on her mind. What if showing her love in the most extravagant way she could think of was to go to her room, get the perfume, and pour it out?
Her savings. Her assets. Her treasure. As Judas said, this was a year’s wages, poured out in service of Jesus.
A remarkable action of love.
Here’s what I’m thinking. I’m thinking God loves our extravagant imperfect devotion more than he expects our hesitant attempts at perfection.
Rather than worrying about how much we should pray or read or help the poor, what if we forgot what we did and what we had to appease God for. And what if we loved extravagantly right now.