Monday in Holy Week
Each day of Holy Week, we have an opportunity to gather for worship as a Restoration community. This morning, a small group of us came together for Morning Prayer from 6-6:30am. We’d love to have you join us some time this week.
The Gospel reading was from Mark 14: 3-9
6 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. 9 And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
I was struck by three things that Jesus said. We spent time reflecting on these questions in the stillness of the early hour:
- Jesus assumes that the poor will always be around us– not in a fatalistic, so we shouldn’t care way. But Jesus assumes, that those who follow him will always be ‘living’ close to the poor. Their lives will intersect with the poor in such a way that there will always be opportunities to help and serve them. I recognize that Jesus is spotting me a pretty hefty assumption on that one. I am convicted of my sentimentality that does not materialize in service– I can feel guilty, I can feel sad, I can even feel indignant… but those ’emotions’ becoming ‘actions’– that’s rare. How are you doing? ‘…and whenever you want, you can do good for them.’
- Jesus talked a lot about his coming death. He described it in vivid detail– he would be betrayed, beaten, crucified, suffer many things. Here He mentions it again– ‘she has anointed my body beforehand for burial.’ One of the gifts of Holy Week is that Jesus invites us to an extended reflection on his death. He also invites us to reflect on our OUR death– our legacy, our mortality, our limited nature, the few years we have on this earth. How often do you reflect on the end of your life? On what you will leave behind? On the impact of the choices you make now?
- Jesus closes this interaction by saying ‘wherever the Gospel is proclaimed, what this woman has done will be told.’ That’s kind of a weird thing to say. I learned the Gospel from 4 ‘spiritual laws’ and a big ‘bridge diagram’. I never saw this woman floating above the bridge or making it into the story. Why would Jesus say that? He seems to expect there would be a commensurate ‘costliness’ and ‘extravagance’ to our response to him. That her ‘wastefulness’ should be normal for those who come after Him. What is most precious to you? How could it be ‘a beautiful thing to me…’
This week in particular, Jesus calls us to be poured out in costly, wasteful devotion. Come ‘waste’ some time with us at Restoration.
April 6, 2009 @ 10:12 am
Thanks for sharing this passage this morning, David. I had never seen this much into these verses before.
You mentioned something at prayer that you didn’t include here but had me thinking about all morning. You highlighted that this incident occurred while Jesus was at the home of Simon THE LEPER, a detail easily overlooked. This got me thinking:
– Might the disciples have reacted differently (with less indignation) if this woman had performed the act NOT in the home of a social outcast BUT in the home of a wealthy individual? Or, in a royal court?
– In examining the juxtaposition of Jesus spending the time to have dinner with a leper and the disciples reacting to money “wasted”, what might God be teaching me about doing good for the poor?
April 7, 2009 @ 7:39 am
Great questions and insight Daniel. I see your reasoning– that something might seem reasonable if its for the wealthy and important. (It’s the way Bono can get away with his sunglasses and hair styles).
Even more close to home, I am aware of the temptation to spend more time, or listen more attentively, or give more extravagantly to someone who seems ‘important’. Maybe the disciples didn’t think Jesus was that important! Why is she wasting this on him (as opposed to a ‘king’)? in the house of an outcast leper (as opposed to a palace)?
The passage confronts all kinds of things in my heart. But I am still left with your question– how do we live so that we are regularly ‘doing good for the poor’? our church will head to WV this summer to do home repair for the poor. That’s good. I sense there is a deeper call in this.