Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” John 12:1-8.
Mary’s lavish display of love for Jesus was rather off-putting to Judas. He saw this as a frivolous expense. He criticized her and thought he knew better than to waste this expensive product on a display of affection. But Mary showed that she knew what was coming. She was anointing Him for burial. This would be a far greater gift to the poor than what a pound of spice would get.
Judas, who would eventually betray the Son of God, gets all indignant. He adopts the posture of one who is practical and a good steward, and even compassionate toward the poor. Mary adopts the posture of a servant, dropping her dignity along with gift of great price.
It is possible to be cheap and tight-fisted, believing yourself to be a good steward, and miss the opportunity to be generous toward God. Material things have a role to play, but it’s not the starring role.