Why does St. Mark limn so carefully certain parts of this weekend’s Gospel, and barely bother to describe others?
He notes the exact type, container, and cost of the oil, and fails to mention the name of the woman who anoints the head of Christ: “…a woman came with an alabaster jar of perfumed oil, costly genuine spikenard. She broke the alabaster jar and poured it on his head. There were some who were indignant. 'Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil? It could have been sold for more than three hundred days' wages and the money given to the poor.' They were infuriated with her. Jesus said, 'Let her alone. Why do you make trouble for her? She has done a good thing for me.'” Christ certainly had the ability to have stopped her, but he chose against it. Why?
Sometimes the lesson is simple. How much would you be willing to give Christ to show your love for Him? What is the cost of salvation? How much are you willing to give to secure everlasting peace and joy with the Father in heaven? This woman thought nothing of pouring precious oil over the head of the Lord. I doubt that she tried to calculate how much she should spend to anoint the head of Jesus. I can not imagine that she mulled over complex spreadsheets to ensure that she was spending enough to satisfy God — “Boy, I don't want to spend too little and insult Him, I'd better spend 300 silvers, that seems about right.”
Later on in the passage, Judas secures the contract on Christ — we later learn that it is valued at 30 silver pieces. A day later we discover the price of our redemption — the betrayal of a disciple, the agony in the garden, the scouring at the pillar, the crowning with thorns, the mocking of the people, the long, grueling road to Calvary with a big cross that includes three knee-crushing falls, the public stripping, the nailing of hands and feet, the abandonment of friends, the mocking of a thief, and a lonesome death on a cross. Is that worth 300 silvers, or 30? Both and neither. Who can calculate the price of redemption? Well, the Father can and did. He sent His Son into the world to conquer sin and death. He knew what the cost was and He payed it. The Father never stopped man from killing His Son and the Son always did the will of the Father. They never stopped the plan in mid-stream to re-calculate the cost.
Our one and only goal in this life should be to pay what is necessary to attain the next life. It comes with a fixed rate — because the economy of salvation doesn't need to factor cost of living increases, tax brackets, inflation rates, or market changes. Salvation costs the same now as it did in 33 A.D. — your life.
Fr. Gee is parochial vicar at Our Lady of Angels Parish, Woodbridge.
(This article courtesy of the Arlington Catholic Herald.)