The Fragrant Perfume

In John 12:1-11 we find that Precious Love is not to be held back nor hoarded. Love is to be poured out. Christ did not reprimand, restrain, nor caution Mary; instead, He approves and commends her display of lavish love when she anoints His feet with expensive perfume and wipes them with her hair. Love is to be opened and poured out. The purest and best devotion doesn’t come from common sense, duty, obligation, nor logic.

The happiest day of our lives is when the things we ought to do become the things we want to do because of our love and devotion to the One who first loved us.

A Danish playwright wrote a classic short story set in a small fishing village in Denmark many decades ago. Two spinster sisters provide leadership to the small Protestant church that their deceased father had pastored for years, leaving only 11 sour-faced, self-righteous old people in their little church.

On a stormy night, a French refugee shows up at the door of the two sisters offering to cook, clean, and care for the aging sisters in exchange for room and board. Her name is Babette.

Years pass, Babette is pleasant and helpful to the sisters and to the congregants of the little church with whom she worships. Word comes from France that Babette has won 10,000 francs with a lottery ticket that she would splurge and purchase annually!

Babette asks the sisters if she may host a party in their home in honor of their father’s 100th birthday and invite the entire village. Turtle soup, caviar, quail, pastries, champagne, vintage wines and cheeses are served to the villagers. Babette reveals that she had once been a chef at a renowned restaurant in Paris. To the villager’s astonishment, she
spends the entire 10,000 francs in appreciation to the sisters and the town that had taken her in.

The gourmet meal has a transformative effect. The amazing grace of the luxurious and lavish meal creates an atmosphere in which old feuds are settled, friendship and love rekindled, hearts grow strangely warmed. In the words of the playwright, "taciturn old people received the gift of tongues, ears that for years that had been almost deaf were opened…. Long after midnight, the windows of the house shone like gold, and golden song flowed out into the winter’s air."

Common sense says grow potatoes and beans, but love plants flowers too.

Common sense says, “just do your part”, but love steps out beyond duty.

We, too, have been anointed and bathed in the extraordinary grace from Above. Like Mary of old, we too break the bottle, let down our hair, anoint the feet in heartfelt gratitude and unselfconscious adoration.

In these days of uncertainties and fears we choose to lavishly love. It is the only antidote for paralyzing anxiety.

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