Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” John 12:3-5
Imagine, Mary coming into the room, fully aware of the cost of the perfumed oil in her hands. But even more aware of wanting to show her love. She showers her love on Jesus without counting the cost. An example of the virtue of charity.
On the other hand, there is Judas, fully aware of the cost of the perfumed oil in Mary’s hands. And, under a false pretense of defending the poor, he wishes to have the money that would have been gained from the sale of the nard in his purse. An example of the vice of avarice (greed).
The road toward virtue begins by knowing the vice opposite, and learning to oppose our own inclinations towards those vices. In this case, if someone like Judas wants to grow in the virtue of charity, he will have to come to understand how his disposition currently opposes charity. He suffers from the vice of avarice (greed), which is, a desire to possess more than one needs. To temper the vice of greed, requires one to do acts of generosity. The problem is, that it is not a science of the head (i.e. do x number of acts of charity to counter a moment of selfishness). Rather, it is a changing of the disposition of the heart to want what is good for the other above our own need or desire.
Many may look at the act of Mary of Bethany and say, “what a waste”. As we prepare during this Holy Week, let us ask ourselves, “What is it that I have, that I can ‘waste’ on account of the Lord Jesus?”
After all, Jesus ‘wasted his life’ on the Cross for us.
___Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but (also) everyone for those of others. Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.