Sunday, April 1, 2012
While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. But some were there who said to one another in anger, "Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor." And they scolded her. But Jesus said, "Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her." Mark 14:3-9
Across the country today kids will be running amok with palms, waving them in procession and then quickly turning them into weapons to playfully attack their fellow young friends. The gentler children will weave their palms into crosses, being creative and quiet as the service proceeds. I tended to be the type of child that enjoy flailing first and then would settle down to making something useful or attractive,eventually. Palm Sunday is a powerful and important day in the life of the church but is often so confusing and busy that we fail to proceed the power and intense compassion that is before us. Holy Week has begun and we are invited to be people who open our hearts to the compelling story as we walk through this week.
Today is Palm Sunday and we will begin our celebration with the Liturgy of the Palms. As we move into the service of the Word, we will hear the Passion reading from Mark. The piece of the story that often gets overlooked, and which Mark puts directly in the midst of the Passion story, is this gentle and tender moment when a woman anoints Jesus with perfume, and washes his feet with her tears. She has been named as Mary Magdalene in other Gospels, identified as a woman of ill repute -but to me, whomever it was, she is a woman of great insight and compassion. Amidst the arguing and the political shenanigans, the betrayals and the violence wrought by jealousy. This woman got it, with all the distractions around her, she showed her love and concern, understanding that she was losing her greatest friend, her savoir, her rescuer and teacher. She was able to act with her heart, ignoring all cost, and giving all she had for the love of God, as Jesus would soon give his all for the love of the world.
Today, I ask God to help me to not be distracted by the pettiness of our daily lives, but rather live and act with my heart. May my walk this Holy Week be a journey that ignores the costs and focuses solely on compassion, love and service. May we all be moved by the sacrifice of Christ, moved to live and love sacrificially for the love of God and the healing of our world.
Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.