Updated: Apr 22, 2019
Many Christians are considered devoted to Christ. Every believer must ask, what kind of devotion to Christ do I have?
In the reading from John 12, Jesus was in the house of Mary and Martha for a meal, Lazarus was present. Meanwhile, Mary took expensive oil and anointed Jesus’ feet. It was worth 300 denarii, about a year’s wages for a worker — something which Mary had kept, unknowingly for such as time as this.
Why would Mary do such thing to Jesus? It was a custom in Judaism to clean the dead body and put spices on it To anoint the body with perfume was a sign of honor, and from a practical sense, to take away the eventual bad odor. The anointing (a symbol of preparation for Jesus’ burial).
A spice is used to anoint, with sweet odor- expensive, token of wealth; royal gifts; an article of commerce; burnt at burial; appointed for the ingredient of the anointing oil; stored in a temple.
Could there have been another reason why Mary did what she did? a. Was it repayment for raising her brother Lazarus from the dead? b. Do humans pay God's goodness? c. Does God humans repayment for what He does? d. Was it for the reason of pure devotion to the Lord, why Mary did hat she has done? What we offer to God or give God in praise, adoration is a sign of pure gratitude for undeserved favor God bestows? e. Was the anointing of Jesus part of a bigger plan of God, redemption? Unknowingly yes, she became a part of the work of God, for beyond she could imagine. After 2000 years, her story remains to be a part of the story of God’s redeeming plan, hence filling the house (human existence) with the fragrance of her action, per se.
In contrast, Judas who was present and was outraged — commenting that wasting a costly perfume was preposterous. Judas’ comment about the value of the perfume was not because he was concerned about the poor but because he was the treasurer for the group and had just been deprived of further money to steal. Judas words however sounding sincere and caring were deceitful.
Devotion is defined as a commitment to the ways and will of God expressed through the Christian life and its practices. A question comes to mind, which is better, to give to the church or to give to the poor? It is not a question of what is better, devoted and practicing Jews gave the temple tax and also provided to taking care of the poor. Worship was central to Israel’s existence which made the temple an integral part. If we are to anoint Jesus today, how do we do it? Christians give to God, which is similar to anointing Christ, stated in the Orthodox Bible. "When it comes to whether we should help others or help our family, it is not appropriate to care only about our family; it is appropriate however to care about our loved ones first." by Dennis Prager
In conclusion, there are two kinds of devotion, genuine and false. One was a devotion demonstrated in action; the other is devotion in words which is equivalent to no devotion at all. Several years ago, the Bishop of London characterized the western view of Christian devotion as cerebral. In other words, only in the head but not in the heart. An action is the proof of a genuine and sincere devotion which originates from the heart.
by: Bishop Jose Elmer Belmonte