By Rachel Rendall
When I think of Martha and Mary, my first thought is always of the scene in Luke 10:38-42 where Martha is busy working and Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus. By just the mention of their names, I am reminded that amidst my day of cooking and caring for my daughter, my place is first and foremost at the feet of the Lord. I was recently reflecting on another popular “Mary” passage from John 12:3, in which Mary anoints the feet of Jesus with a liter of costly aromatic nard perfumed oil. I had always thought about the value of her gift—in Scripture we learn the oil was worth 300 days wage, basically a year’s salary. In Mary’s complete abandon to her love for Jesus, without thought, she gets out what was most likely her prized possession and anoints his feet with the oil and dries them with her hair. And, don’t get me wrong, that act of love, in and of itself, is crazy and insane and completely beautiful. But there’s another aspect of the story that I had never before considered.
We learn that the scent of the oil was so strong that it filled the house with fragrance. That incredibly rich smell didn’t just disappear magically at the end of the day! Jesus carried that fragrance with him wherever he went that week…the Passover and the last Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, as he was scourged and mocked, and lastly as he carried and hung on the cross. Can you imagine what comfort is must have been to Jesus, all throughout his agony and betrayal and abandonment, that he could smell the sweet perfume, that pure act ofhumble and unencumbered love? Not only Jesus, but everyone he encountered that week, could smell the sweet perfume as well.
The story of Mary anointing the feet of Jesus was a great reminder to me that our own acts of love, both large and small, bring comfort to Jesus. He said it himself! “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). It is a great consolation and joy that I, in my very smallness and insignificance in the universe, can be pleasing to God, in my simple acts each day. I encourage each of you to take this to heart as well, particularly in the day to day grind of attending to our business. Whether we are bringing dinner to a mom who’s just had a baby, or washing our own children’s feet after hours of barefoot play in the backyard, or visiting lonely elderly– these small things fill our world with the sweet fragrance of love.
May God bless each of us with the grace to love Him and our families as Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, loved. We adore you, o Christ, and we praise you, for by your holy cross you have redeemed the whole world.