Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?" (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, "Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."
Years ago, when I was newly a priest, someone gave us a present that changed my life. My sister had died and we didn't know how to get to the funeral which was far away. A woman from our congregation called and asked if we would like some of her airplane miles. She knew of our loss but not of our circumstance. She was moved with compassion and offered something she could give. All these years later, I am still so grateful for her generosity and tenderness. It still brings tears to my eyes.
The story of the woman who anoints Jesus is a powerful one. She offers what she has, from the heart, with her tears and her hair she tenderly cares for Jesus. Those gathered around criticize her for her waste, but Jesus know this tender and generous act is from the heart. She didn't know what to do, so what she did she did from the heart. In gratefulness for the love she had received she offered a rare gift from her heart and with all that she had. As we move toward this Holy Week, the Passion and Easter, God invites us to seek those tender places within us, and offer what we can. For it is in our humanity and humility we draw close to God.
Today, I give thanks for God's love for me. Each of us are rare and splendid gifts in the eyes of God. We are called to offer ourselves, from the heart, so that others might know God's love also. May we never shy away from tears or compassion but always demonstrate God's love by living from the heart.
Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.