A Fragrant Sacrifice
300 Denarii would get you around $67,000 today. That’s almost double the average annual salary of millennial today. Mary, as she is named in John’s rendition of the story, pours out two years of wages over Jesus’ feet in the form of perfume (did someone say Tom Ford?), as an act of preparation (for his impending death and burial) and for as an act of worship.
Queer folks get this. The act of giving up everything in worship of a God, whose followers more often than not preach violence and hatred against our bodies. To this day, many Queer folk continue to look for ways to honor and worship and praise God, even in the midst of ongoing marginalization that is fueled by those, who like Judas, would have us not be a part of the beauty and glory of the worshiping community of God. Judas’ rebuke of the woman has nothing to do with the cost of the perfume but instead everything to do with the presence of someone who embodies otherness daring to have such a great degree of proximity and intimacy with Jesus. The men who record her story cannot seem to get all the details right either, even though Jesus is quoted as saying her story would never be forgotten. This woman’s presence comes as an offense to the those would have God hoarded for themselves. She is a pillar of strength, boldness, and beauty in the face cowardice and oppressive gazes.
Whether the woman was a close confidant of Jesus, or a stranger who made her way into the room that night, we won’t know until we meet her in heaven. What we do know, is that she gives us the courage to keep pressing forward. She gives us the boldness to worship extravagantly at the feet of Jesus, while testifying to us that Jesus will receive us, even if his followers won’t. Her story is an acknowledgement that even our worship will go on scrutinized and belittled by those who would see us barred from the household of God – she sees us – and yet we are covered by the fragrance of God’s affirming love. She is the evidence that, although in this world we may have trouble, our God has overcome and is overcoming the world.
Would her fragrant offering, and deep sacrifice, encourage and embolden you now, and always.