Lent Reflections @ CEC (4/6/20)
"Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you - for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart." - St. Therese’ of Lisieux
SCRIPTURE & DEVOTION: Mark 14:3-9
While Jesus was in Bethany, reclining at the table of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with a jar of very expensive perfume made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.
“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Doing what we can
It is human nature to observe what others do and to form opinions about their actions. We agree, or we disagree. We imagine what we ourselves would have done in this or that situation. We comment on the decisions of our elected officials. We judge the actions of our neighbors, our fellow church-goers, even our friends and family. We can’t seem to avoid it. It’s what we do.
When the woman in this story pours her expensive perfume on Jesus, those in attendance seem to have little trouble forming an opinion. Some see her action as a “waste” of resources, a whole jar emptied at once that could have been meted out over the course of time and made to last much longer. All that others can think about is that the money from the sale of such an item could have been put to better purposes. No one seems to have any hesitancy in expressing disapproval and indignation.
What is Jesus’ response? “Leave her alone.” He knows that she has done what she can to demonstrate her love. He alone is aware that her action is both a gesture of present devotion and a symbolic anointing of his body as preparation for his coming death. Regardless of anyone else’s opinion or judgment, he has seen her heart and acknowledges the purity of her intention. Like the widow in Mark 12:41-44 who gives as an offering to God two small copper coins, all that she has, this woman has sacrificed something precious, made even more valuable by the spirit in which it was given, regardless of what others might think.
The world-wide health crisis at this moment in our history has given us a great deal to ponder with regard to decision-making, whether our own or that of other people. Most are following the official recommendations to stay at home, attempting to halt the potential spread of disease by limiting contact with others in the community. Others are choosing to risk exposure by venturing out in a more active volunteer capacity, such as running errands for those most vulnerable. Some continue to meet for corporate worship on a small scale, while others believe their better option is to pray individually in the privacy of their own homes.
Yet, as followers of Christ, the essential question with us here and now, in this time, is the same as it has always been: What can we pour out in sacrificial love to our Savior? Can we give of our time in acts of service? Use in some way our talents, abilities, or specialized training? Our physical or financial resources? Our prayers? Our investment in studying the Word by putting its precepts into practice? Can we make phone calls and send messages of encouragement by mail or by electronic means? Shop for essentials, prepare meals, or do yard work for those who cannot do so for themselves? The list of possibilities for service is limitless. Whatever we decide to do, even if our small efforts may seem insignificant in the broader sense, Jesus himself has made it clear that he sees beyond the action to the intention of heart within. May this knowledge fill us with blessed assurance as we endeavor to do what we can, in devotion to him and for his glory.
Jesus, may our hearts be wholly Yours. May we hear Your voice and follow Your lead as we reach out into our homes, our neighborhoods, our city and our world. Open the eyes of our heart, that we would see You and Your work in this world. May we be devoted to making You famous today.