A famous good work
"Truly I say to you, wherever the Gospel is preached in the whole world, that also which this woman has done shall be spoken of in memory of her" (Mark 14:9). Thus spoke Jesus concerning Mary of Bethany after she had annointed Him with costly perfume of pure nard before His crucifixion.
However, there were those who did not see anything praiseworthy in Mary's act. They were indignant and remarked: "For what purpose has this perfume been wasted? For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denaris and the money given to the poor." And they scolded Mary. But Jesus defended her and said: "Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me. For the poor you always have with you, and whenever you wish, you can do them good; but you do not always have Me. She has done what she could; she has annointed My body beforehand for burial."
What was it that was so special about Mary's act that it deserves to be spoken of throughout the world? Why were the others so indignant about it? Can we find anything comparable in present day life? Mary's act was so praiseworthy because it was motivated by love and respect for her Savior. Mammon had not made her its slave. On the contrary her deed indicated that she was its master and a servant of the Lord. Mary does not seek honor and praise for her deed. Only a person with true faith is capable of performing such a deed. Certain ones did not have such faith. That is why they were so indignant. Their hearts were attached to Mammon. They were not incensed because of the needs of the poor, but rather because Mary's act of love did not provide them with the opportunity to practice their greed and the money was beyond their reach. If they had truly wanted to help the poor they could have used their own money.
We find people like this today. They are opposed to giving money for the support of the preaching of the Gospel. Mission work to them means nothing more than offering aid to developing nations. But there is no Church without Gospel preaching, and a Gospel-preaching church helps the poor (1 Cor. 1:18, Gal. 2:10).
Where can we find Mary of Bethany today? She is so rare that this portion of the Bible is to be read wherever the Gospel is preached, so that people will get the right picture of the Christian sacrificial spirit and unselfish love. Yes, we can find Mary if we have eyes to see. She is the faithful Christian, often a poor woman, who may be criticized for everything from A to Z, but in the sight of God is a pillar of the Church.