“While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. ‘Why this waste?’ they asked. ‘This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.’ Aware of this, Jesus said to them, ‘Why are you bothering this woman? For she has done a beautiful thing (ἔργον γὰρ καλὸν) for me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.’ Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, ‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?’ So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.” (Mt 26: 6-16)
According to another Evangelist, John, it was Judas who objected to the anointing of Jesus with expensive perfume, asking “Why this waste?” And, according to John, Judas “did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” (Jn 12: 6) Judas had become so obsessed with his own financial gain, – an obsession he attempts to mask with a concern for “the (nameless) poor,” – that he can’t see the point of an act of true love, of personal love, for any concrete person. In fact Judas has ceased to “see” other people, including the Person of Jesus Christ, blinded as Judas was by his self-centered obsession. Even later, when he comes to regret his decision to betray Christ, Judas says, I have sinned, for I have betrayed “innocent blood” (Mt 27: 4). – Not “Jesus, my Teacher,” or “Jesus of Nazareth,” – no, Judas does not say the name of his Victim, because he has lost all personal connection to Christ and others.
On this Holy and Great Wednesday, let me not dismiss opportunities for little acts of love, for Jesus Christ and other people in my life. Whether I bring flowers to church today, to place before the Bridegroom-icon; or bring flowers home, to put a smile on a loved one’s face; or bring fresh coffee for colleagues at the office; or make a phone-call to an elderly relative; or do some pre-Paschal cooking or cleaning for the upcoming Feast, let me not ask, “Why this waste?” Because the love we show for our Lord, Who now heads toward His passion, and for our other loved ones, each of whom has his/her cross-carrying journey, and whom we perhaps “will not always have,” is no waste, but rather “a beautiful thing.”