This week, our Gospel (John 12:1-8) continues with Jesus on the road to Jerusalem. It is now six days before the Passover and Jesus and his disciples have come to Bethany to spend time with friends before they reach their final destination. Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus, whom Jesus had earlier raised from the dead host a dinner for them in their home. What is interesting here is what we learn about each of these people and how they react to Jesus.
Mary is moved out of her devotion and probably thankfulness because of the restoration of her brother to life. She takes a pound of expensive ointment and anoints Jesus' feet and wipes them with her hair. Mary's act of devotion was costly and unusual. Costly because the ointment was very expensive, unusual because respectable women did not unbind their hair in public. Further it showed her humility in that it was a servant's work to attend to the feet of the guests. Clearly Mary is devoted to The Lord.
Then we have Judas Iscariot, who we know is about to betray Jesus, His reaction to what Mary has done says volumes about his character. He is angry that they did not take the ointment and sell it so they would have money to give to the poor. But, in reality, it seems that he is not interested in the poor at all. Judas, it seems, is in charge of the moneybag and has been helping himself to what is put in it. So he has only his self interest at heart. There are some commentaries that suggest that this may have been the last straw for Judas. It is here that he makes the decision to betray Jesus for the 30 pieces of silver.
Jesus every mindful of what is ahead for all of them says, "Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”