Mary and the perfume

IMG_1607What? You’re here already? Come in, forgive me, I’ve not even tied up my hair yet. We were up so late last night baking, and Martha had me cleaning everything yesterday, so I got up early to wash it. I’ll tie it up when it’s dry. Oh, the Teacher is coming today – I thought that’s why you are here? No, it’s fine, come in, sit there. I’ve already swept there again this morning. Martha just keeps shouting at me – there’s no time for anything today. I mean, as soon as the Teacher gets anywhere near, there’ll be crowds of people, hungry mouths, reaching hands, it’ll be chaos till we get him and the friends into the house and the door shut.

Yes, the food’s all prepared. Listens for a moment, then calls  All right Martha, in a minute!

I’ve got a problem though. Whatever am I going to tell Martha? She’ll go mad…absolutely mad. What? Well, it’ll sound a bit stupid…it’s just….  You know how Lazarus died, and then the Teacher brought him back? Well, since then, my brother has had a price on his head, and everyone’s been talking and the village elders are getting nervous, and the Teacher is getting more famous… I don’t know. It feels as though a storm is about to break. Oppressive. And well, Jesus is so very special to us. To me. So I…. Martha is going to be livid. I don’t know what she’ll say. Or do. calls YES Martha, I’ll be there in a minute!

She made me clean in our special corner in our room. Well, no-one’s going to go in there, least of all the Teacher, but I cleaned it, went through our special stuff, and I found….I found the coins our father left us for when we marry. If we marry. If…yes, well anyway, I opened the box to dust them, cos Martha is checking everything, and then while the box is open she yells me to go to market to buy more grain. So I walked all through the afternoon and shopped and came home bone weary, then we cooked some more.

What?  Oh, yes, the coins. Three hundred of them. A year’s pay. He saved so hard for our future, and I….I took them to market. And I bought some perfume. For Jesus. Don’t look at me like that, I know it’s mad. But this storm, it’s going to break soon over all of us, everything will change and I just want…. I just want him to know that I love him. To tell him in a way that means he’ll remember me forever. I love him so much, he is everything to me. So I’ve spent our future, mine and Martha’s. I didn’t mean to spend hers as well, but I took all the coins in the box and the merchant showed me the best. I can’t give the Teacher less than the best. It’s all for him because he’s everything to me. May God forgive me, cos Martha won’t. Our Martha’s going to kill me.

calls Coming Martha!        She’s going to kill me when she finds out what I’ve done.

John 12:1-8

I “performed” this reflection or something similar (it wasn’t scripted) in a sermon slot on Sunday at our Family Service. I’ve always wondered what Mary was thinking and where the perfume came from. And worried what Martha would say. I hope Lazarus helped them, and that they were some of the women that Christian communities cared for as they grew older. 


One response to “Mary and the perfume

  1. This is really excellent Claire, thank you for sharing it. Wish I’d been there to see and hear people’s reactions. In my experience things like that have a really powerful effect on people emotionally.

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