Last week we heard the story of the prodigal (wasteful) son, the resentful older brother, and the loving father. No matter your birth order, you can relate to some aspect of each of the sons. Who among us hasn’t squandered some gift and felt ashamed? Who among us hasn’t felt resentful for generosity shown to others? The character I find difficult to relate to is the father. He doesn’t worry about the potential for future disappointment from the younger son. He doesn’t let an elevated sense of fairness from the older son keep him from sharing. The father loves both sons extravagantly, wastefully even. His love shows us a glimpse of how God loves: more joyfully, eagerly, patiently that we can ever understand.
In this week’s gospel, Mary wipes Jesus’ feet with an extraordinary amount of perfume. She is grateful that Jesus raised her brother from the dead and she prepares Jesus for his own imminent death. Meanwhile, Judas argues that the money could have been used for the poor.
Judas seems like the righteous one – worried about the poor. But he really is worried about his own bank account. Mary seems like the wasteful one; how many people could have been fed by the money spent on that perfume? Jesus surprises us by honoring Mary’s extravagant gift. I relate much more to Judas than Mary: anxious about money, looking for ways to justify my own priorities, critical of others, all the while driven by a sense of lack and fear. Judas was focused on the money and his own needs, not the poor and not Jesus. Mary was focused on the relationship and let love of Christ be her first priority.