“Mary took a pound of costly perfume, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” -John 12:3
Read John 12:1-8
Many of us have been encouraged at some point in our spiritual walks to ponder the question “Am I more a Mary or a Martha?” Without question, by nature I am a Martha. I see the details, I work until they’re done, I rush and hurry and have trouble slowing down. Perhaps you can relate? I can even become frustrated with those who are simply more “in the moment” and “Mary-like.” Yet at my core, I long to be more “Mary-like” too.
As she serves Jesus and the others a meal around a dinner table, Martha is once again doing while Mary is being: being fully present at the feet of Jesus. Mary is in the moment, and she has brought her best. Mary wipes Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume, and “the house filled with the fragrance” (John 12:3). The greatness of what Mary does here “consists in the fact that she wants to magnify God, not herself” (Pope Benedict XVI). How easy it is for us to practice the opposite.
When, like Mary, we comprehend the incredible love and mercy shown us by Jesus, the only appropriate response is to come to his feet with our very best. When we do this, we magnify him, our creator, our saviour, the one sent for our rescue. As we magnify Christ, the “perfume” of his goodness and grace becomes evident, not because of our grand gesture or the cost of our perfume, but because of the one whose feet we wipe.
May Mary’s beautiful gesture inspire us and encourage us to fix our eyes on Jesus as we kneel at his feet and bring our best.
Sarah Stanley, M.A. Ministry, Leadership & Culture Student, Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary