- The unction of Bethany,
Mark 14, 3-11
When Jesus was sitting at a meal in the house of Simon
the leper, a woman came. She was carrying an expensive alabaster
flask of ointment. She broke the flask and poured it on the head
of Jesus. This created a surprise and some were filled with indignation
within themselves and said: Why make this waste of money? Why
was this luxury made? It is nonsense! Instead of this foolish
expense, it could have been given to the poor. They were furious
with this woman.
Jesus allowed this woman to do it and to express all her love
She is not asking anything. She is really herself in this superabundance.
She does not look for some thing else.
- Usually the giving and taking regulate our human relationships,
we are convinced that we cannot make an action without receiving
a benefit. In ordinary life we are used to the exchange mode
of relationships. What we do for the others is what we expect
they do for us. If not, we complain about their lack of gratitude.
Consequently, if some body, like this woman, gives with abundance,
it is a surprise, because we are out of the market logic where
the law is respected, which is already some thing, but here we
go over a strict justice to reach superabundance.
In the Gospel, besides Jesus, only women show an action of
superabundance. In the parables, like the parable of the prodigal
son, Jesus wants to make us understand that God behaves like
that with us. God gives freely. Then in the Gospel: "you
have received free, give free".
- Certainly Jesus recognizes himself in this woman. Like
her, at the time of his crucifixion, he gives all.
Since the disciples refer to the poor who are not attending this
meal, Jesus answers them on the same mode: is it not him the
poor among them?
The disciples have no idea that they have in front of them a
poor who will be soon put on trial with the risk to be condemned
to death. Jesus knows that his time is coming in a short while
and soon he will be abandoned.
Is it not the reference to the poor a pretext to move this woman
aside? She is showing an unusual intimacy with Jesus who welcomes
her and allows her to do it.
Judas is making some bargaining with the high priests. What
a contrast with the attitude of the woman who is the only one
not looking for gains! Judas hands over Jesus for money. He sells
off his master for only 30 pieces of silver when the woman has
spent more than this on perfume for Jesus!
Jesus is the only one to understand this woman. He takes her
defense and he pays the best tribute to her by underlying the
exceptional meaning of her action: " She has come beforehand
to anoint my body in preparation for the burying".