Judas Iscariot—the disciple who was to betray Jesus—remarked, “This perfume could have been sold for three hundred silver coins, and the money given to the poor.” Judas, indeed, had no concern for the poor; he was a thief, and as he held the common purse, he used to help himself to the funds.
But Jesus spoke up, “Leave her alone. Was she not keeping it for the day of my burial? (The poor you always have with you, but you will not always have me.)”
Many Jews heard that Jesus was there and they came, not only because of Jesus, but also to see Lazarus whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests thought about killing Lazarus as well, for many of the Jews were drifting away because of him, and believing in Jesus.
When one comes back from the dead, a feast is not out of the ordinary. Most people do hold a banquet to celebrate the new life that they will live. It is no wonder that Lazarus had a feast held in Jesus’ honor. But it is not only for his sake that such a celebration is held. There are new lives that do not necessarily spring from the resurrection. There are those that find new impetus in life by a soulful encounter. This is where Mary enters. Her offering of a pound of costly perfume is her own way of celebrating her life transformed when she encountered Jesus.
But there are those who are not happy at the good fortune of others. Judas would rather see the practicality, or the lack of it, of the expressions of celebration that night. He was appalled at the seeming waste that Mary did in anointing the feet of the Lord with the costly perfume. He could not enter into the spirit of the feast. His heart is stuck with the mundane concerns of the world. He is not alone in his misery. The chief priests too were not happy. They saw the resurrection of Lazarus as a disaster. This incapacity to feel joy at the good fortunes of others is indicative of a malady of the heart. These are the ones who will live and die in misery because they see joy as costly and disastrous commodity.