Daily Devotion for Tuesday 19th March 2024

St Mark 14: 3 – 10

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.’ Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, and promised to give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.

Reflection

This story is easy to read as one character is pitted against the other.  Judas says the wrong thing.  As he later does the wrong thing, we aren’t surprised.  Perhaps to the surprise of the community, the unnamed woman does the right thing.  Jesus clearly says we need to follow her example.

When we read the story as either/or, I wonder if we are missing something?  I wonder whether they both have something to teach us about how we are meant to follow Jesus?  

The unnamed woman is an example of extravagance.  Anointing him is a recognition of who he really is—a leader and king.  The nard is a way of showing she truly sees him and wants to honour him.  She cares for Jesus the King.  When challenged by Judas about the seemingly in appropriate use of the money, Jesus commends her for her actions.  Perhaps he felt seen by her.

In his own way Judas is also showing deep care.  His question and later actions indicate he doesn’t really understand who Jesus is—which kind of king he is—but he does care about the hungry and the lost.  His challenge about the use of money indicates he does understand Jesus’ care for the vulnerable.  

As Jesus’ disciples, perhaps we need to listen to Judas and the unnamed woman.  Judas cares and challenges the use of money.  The unnamed woman acts extravagantly.  Together they call us to act extravagantly to ensure everyone has ‘enough’.

We are called to care extravagantly for everyone—for the people near us who are working so diligently and modelling their lives on the life of Jesus; for those who come into our circle whose needs—for food, clothing, work, care—are great.  Extravagant care means there is enough for all.

Prayer

Living Lord, give us courage to challenge structures of society.  Help us offer our gifts extravagantly.  Guide us to offer our care for all—whether the need is to be fed or to be recognized and loved.  Amen.

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