A Fragrant Life

The room was noisy as men talked and ate their meal. No one noticed the woman come into the room. Maybe she blended in with the servants. No one noticed until the smell of the costly scent of Nard filled the room. Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked around. There at the feet of Jesus was a woman, weeping, anointing the feet of the One she loved most.

It was a daring thing to do. She knew that some would be offended. But Jesus had spoken of being put to death. What could she do that would show her devotion and also let Him know that she understood? She was right, everyone noticed and the criticisms began. Jesus hushed the voices by saying that she had anointed Him for His burial. She sighed a breath of relief. He understood. He knew that she understood. He accepted her love and her gift of sacrifice.

What amazing courage this woman, Mary Magdalene, demonstrated by showing up at a celebration attended by many influential and powerful men to anoint Jesus’ feet. What motivated her to choose this moment, this time, to proclaim her understanding and her devotion? I have often wondered.

This is the story Mary is most remembered by. The fragrance of that one gift has wafted through the centuries as we ponder her boldness, her extravagance and her love. Hers was a heart that had been broken and then filled with the beauty and fragrance of healing and forgiveness. Her action was the inevitable, natural result that the joy that was in her heart would pour out in an offering that filled the room with its essence and saturate not only the senses of those present but ours as well.

Her love flowed from her heart, as did her grief as she thought of her Lord being put to death. “Why should I wait until He is dead to anoint Him with costly spices?” It reminds me of the importance of celebrating and sharing our love with one another and with God while we are alive. Mary chose to make her love and allegiance known while He was alive while the apostles chose to deny the expressed statements of Jesus that He was about to be put to death but that He would rise again the third day.

There was courage in her acceptance of His death and there was bravery in her acting upon it. She didn’t let what others might think of her stop her from doing what her heart felt was the most important thing. How many times do we not do something for fear of what others will think?

Mary Magdalene had been set free, not only from the demons that possessed her but also from the enslavement to her ego. She now acted from the influence of her soul and spirit (higher self). This is what lent true fragrance to her actions. She followed the leading from the Holy Spirit and took action, using her ego and body (lower self) to fulfill what her higher self had been prompted to do by God’s Spirit.

Whenever we act according to the same pattern our lives will be fragrant also. God is still looking for courageous persons to let God’s Spirit direct their mind, body, soul, and spirit to do amazing things in the world today. What it requires from us is our consent to be used and a commitment to allow God’s Spirit to flow through us. Just like the rich aroma of the costly perfume that Mary emptied out as a sacrament of love, our loving service to God will fill our world with the beauty of the Spirit’s goodness, mercy, and love.