One of the readings for today is really important to me. It is the depiction of the anointing of Jesus by Mary found in John 12: 1-11. In this gospel the woman is identified by name and she uses the "costly nard" to anoint Jesus feet and wipe it with her hair. Judas objects on somewhat reasonable and yet suspect grounds that this was an extravagance and that the money could be used for the poor (of for him!). And Jesus defends Mary: "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 don't always have me."
It reminds me of the incident between Mary and Martha and Jesus when again takes Mary's cause and says." Martha, Martha,you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
I have preached on this many times and always Mary's extravagant and very public expression of faith speaks to me. She is, I presume, responding to his friendship and love for her and his raising her brother from the dead. He tells her that what she is doing is preparing him for burial. I wonder - I seriously wonder - whether she had any clue that was what she was doing. For me, this understanding gives me peace and comfort. Here is why: I live in this place of questioning what it is I am "supposed" to be doing right now and also questioning whether anything I have "done" has been of value. And what I come away with from this is that we do what we are prompted to do and trust that God may be doing more with our little offerings than we know. Than we know in the moment or than we will ever know.
And so, as I begin this week of walking with Jesus to Calvary, my prayer for myself is that I might be present and respond to the promptings of God's spirit. Even if they may be criticized by others, seem extravagant and wasteful and make me feel vulnerable. God's work with and through us is always more than we know.
Here is a quote from Evelyn Underhill
"We are the agents of the Creative Spirit in this world.
Real advance in the spiritual life, then means accepting this vocation with all it involves.
Not merely turning over the pages of an engineering magazine and enjoying the pictures, but putting on overalls and getting on with the job.
The real spiritual life must be horizontal as well as vertical; spread more and more as well as aspire more and more"From The Spiritual Life