John 12: 1-8
This passage depicts Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, anointing Jesus with expensive oil, sacrificing great expense to show her adoration. Earlier, Jesus had commended her for sitting near him and listening. Mary openly offers sacrifice and adulation to Jesus, whom she recognized as God incarnate, over spending on the poor or even her family. Jesus praises Mary for this, although I cannot believe he was speaking from his own point of view as Jesus when he did this, but rather from the point of view of God. Jesus was not attached to his body or to any luxury or extravagance, and from this viewpoint would likely not have allowed this lavishness to be bestowed upon him. Perhaps the symbolism of the extravagance here is to encourage us to love God as unselfishly as possible, to bestow upon God all that which we feel is most precious to us – our attention and our tenderness.
Giving to the poor, humanitarian efforts are obviously virtuous, yet they do not supercede our love and gratitude to God. God is most worthy of our self sacrificing and of receiving our most reverent focus of love.