Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “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.” John 12:1-8
On Saturday, after Emily's swim, we headed for our favorite orchard to pick apples. The aromas of fall were heavy in the air - falling leaves and fallen apples at the base of the trees. We delighted in the open air and our wandering in the orchard. We often forget how powerful and evocative aromas and odors can be. They can conjure up good and tender memories as well as fearsome ones. A perfume or a scent on the breeze can bring up vivid pictures and sensations of people and places long ago forgotten. They can change our mood, calm and excite us and stir visions and creativity in the right context.
Mary anoints Jesus,and by doing so fills the whole house with the powerful perfume. As she wiped his feet with her hair and tears, one of the disciples was angered and verbally abusive. He found the sweet perfume stir him to envy and jealousy. At the same time, Jesus, Martha and Lazarus were moved to compassion by the sweet fragrance and the self-giving act. We are reminded today how simple offerings can change hearts, and how that same offering can be terribly misunderstood. Love can provoke jealousy. We humans can find joy or woe in every good gift.
Today, as the seasons change and the air is filled with autumn scents, may we all find joy in the gifts of God's love that surround us. Despite the inevitable decay and loss in our lives, may this be a day to count our many blessings and to act selflessly like Mary. May our lives be sweet and fragrant offering to the Creator who loves us more than we can even imagine.