Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” John 11:55—12:8
It is common to tease people we know well. Among Native families and communities, you know you belong by how severely you are teased. Sometimes the teasing can get out of hand and it can feel hurtful but most often it is good natured and affectionate. Some of us can be hurt by what people say, even when it is meant as a sign of affection. Especially among young people I am working with, I have had to protect one child or another, when the kids done see their teasing as hurtful. Leave them alone must be said, sometimes, to protect the innocent, the vulnerable and the sensitive.
The story of the anointing of Jesus takes place in Bethany in John's Gospel. The disciples were present, as were his dear friends, sisters Martha and Mary, and brother Lazarus. A tight knit group, I would imagine, where folks teased and joked with each other all the time. Mary was previously chided and teased by her sister for not doing her part. Now she reacted in love by anointing Jesus and Judas voiced his outrage. These were people who were so intimate that they felt free to say what the liked and disliked. There was no formality in this group. But Judas overstepped his bounds and Jesus rose to protect Mary feelings. She acted out of love and honor, and that is always to be respected, whether or not we understand. God always honors the acts of love we give, no matter how people might judge and tease us.
Today I ask God to help me act out of love and not worry what others might think. May we be like Mary, ready to honor others with all we have, so God's love might shine through us. May we act to protect the innocent and vulnerable today, so they too might know God's love in their loves today.