by Averil Stedeford
from Signs of the Times No. 44 - Jan 2012

Mary brought a pound of very costly perfume, anointed Jesus' feet and wiped them  with her hair... Judas protested 'Could not this perfume have been sold and the money  given to the poor? Jesus said 'The poor you have always among you...'
John 12 v3-5 (and also from Mark 14 v 3-9)

Impulsive, full of love, how did Mary feel
hearing her precious gift condemned as waste?
Had she made a terrible mistake,
embarrassed him by pouring it all out?
Should she be ashamed?
Judas might be right.

When Jesus said
'She did this for me, for my burial.
Everywhere her gift will be remembered.
You can help the poor any day.'
He gave her more than thanks.
He made her proud.

Rich Christians, guests of mine
used those kindly words
spoken for one woman in one place
to justify their own complacency:

'Jesus said "There will always be the poor."
It's part of the natural order.
No point in worrying.'#
Seeing my shock, one added
'They shouldn't suffer too much of course.'

This happened when I had staying with me some Christians, including senior church officials, from an African country. We had felt at home together; shared meals and said grace. When one of them said these words I was dumbfounded.


Averil Stedeford is a retired GP, psychiatrist and psychotherapist.