“The most beautiful makeup of a woman is passion. But cosmetics are easier to buy.” – Yves Saint Laurent
Holy Week. Wednesday.
Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14, John 12
I can hear Martha telling Mary to take the figs and honey out to the table and come back with the empty plates.
I can see the anguish on Mary’s face when she returns and puts the plates in the sink. Tears spilling over she tells Martha that He’s talking about leaving again, about how His time has come.
And she doesn’t know what it means,
but she’s known it all along.
She knew all along that this man–this extraordinary man–was her treasure. She knew that any time she could get with Him was precious. She knew He couldn’t stay.
Part of that was His coming and going from their house. He didn’t stay long and was often surrounded by people. His visits were too short. But when it was just the four of them–and because of Him it got to be four again–oh, how they laughed. The air in the room rang with His laughter for days after He left.
And when He taught all those people, it didn’t matter what else was happening. It didn’t matter if there were chores or if no one else at His feet was a woman. Her heart and spirit rang with that truth until He came back–like He was near her the whole time. She couldn’t bear to miss a moment.
But this time something’s different. Something’s off. His burden is heavier. He’s more urgent. He’s saying a lot of goodbyes. He’s giving final instructions. There are fewer stories and more pleas.
He hardly touched His dinner.
And there the figs sit. He loves figs. He was just here last week and He and her brother ate the whole jar. They joked about how her brother came back just for the figs. Her sister had to buy more just for tonight.
Why doesn’t He want the figs?
This is when Martha sees there is something seriously wrong, too.
Simon’s dozing. Peter’s all riled up with James; they aren’t even listening. John’s talking to Him and the others are sort of in and out. She catches her brother’s eye through the doorway, and he sees her concern. He turns his palms up and shakes his head; he doesn’t know what this is about, either.
As she listens to Him, she feels her stomach tighten and a knot form in her throat. She can’t bear to see Him like this.
John leans his head back and closes his eyes.
What if this is it?
What if this is the last time they’ll see Him?
He looks up and see her standing there, His sigh slides into a smile. She grips the doorframe as a wave of love and then grief threatens to topple her. She has to do something.
She goes to her room and gets the jar from her dresser. With both hands, she carries it to the table. It makes a loud crack when she snaps it open and immediately the scent fills the room.
Just like His laugh.
That got everyone’s attention.
Suddenly she’s standing there, with broken alabaster, and all the men are staring at her. She looks to them and then back to Him, and His eyes are welled up and He nods and smiles at her again.
She tips the oil over His head and it runs down the sides of His face and into His beard. It starts to drip onto His tunic.
“What is she doing??”
“If that were my daughter…”
He puts His hand on her shoulder as she kneels. She empties the rest of the jar on His feet.
All she can smell–all anyone can smell–is that perfume.
Her brother doesn’t say anything, but winces and scratches the back of his head. He’s used to her by now. But the hair? She’s using her hair to wipe His feet.
Now He and she are both crying. Tears and oil darken both tunics and both faces.
I can hear Judas saying “Enough. This is enough. She is out of line.” The rest chime in with claims of waste and shame.
And then He shoves the tears away with the back of His hand, and looks right at Judas:
“No. THAT’S enough. YOU’RE out of line. In her beauty, she has done a beautiful thing. She heard My heart and answered Me in the only way she could. With everything she could. Back off. You can deal with the ‘poor’ another day.”
He brushes the tears from her cheek and says, “Thank you, Beautiful one. Thank you.”
As He stands up to go, He lifts His arm to smell His sleeve. He chuckles. “Thank you, again. I’m going to smell like this all week.”