"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. Judas Iscariot, said, 'Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?'" - John 12: 3-4
For the past year, a new saying with an all too familiar message has been circulating in our country, written in the spilled blood of unarmed black folk: "Black Lives Matter." One response to "Black Lives Matter" is irritation and indignation: why pour out so much attention on black and brown lives? Don't all lives matter?
Of course all lives matter. However, our nation has a long and tragic history of some lives mattering more than others based on the color of one's skin. Consider: you only see the need to assert your worth if your worth has not been fully seen.
Something similar is going on in the anointing of Jesus feet by Mary, and in Judas' indignant response. Mary was making a public statement that "Jesus' Life Matters" in anticipation of his murder by the state. And Judas reacts by saying, "Why this disproportionate attention? What about all poor people?" John clues us in that Judas' response says more about Judas' personal economic interests than sincere concern for others.
Leave it to a member of the female gender, whose lives did not matter as much, to know exactly how to make a bold, attention-grabbing demonstration about what and who matters.
Now it's our turn.
Lord, just as Mary's fragrant outpouring of love perfumed everyone in the house, help us to recognize that when we lift up those who have been knocked down, everyone is blessed. Amen.
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.