6 When Jesus was at Bethany visiting the house of Simon, who had a skin disease, 7 a woman came to him with a vase made of alabaster containing very expensive perfume. She poured it on Jesus’ head while he was sitting at dinner. 8 Now when the disciples saw it they were angry and said, “Why this waste? 9 This perfume could have been sold for a lot of money and given to the poor.”
10 But Jesus knew what they were thinking. He said, “Why do you make trouble for the woman? She’s done a good thing for me. 11 You always have the poor with you, but you won’t always have me. 12 By pouring this perfume over my body she’s prepared me to be buried. 13 I tell you the truth that wherever in the whole world this good news is announced, what she’s done will also be told in memory of her.”
Have you noticed that people have lots to say about how others choose to spend their money?
I mean, it’s almost a national pastime. One of our favorite comedians has a bit about being with his Italian family at a wedding – that the conversation in the car on the way home always goes like this: “Did you see that ice sculpture?Whaddaya think that cost?”
Apparently things in the first century were no different. “You poured out ALL the perfume? Can you imagine what could have been done with that money?” All of us have these thoughts when someone else’s spending priorities don’t line up with our own. And I’m certain that others look at what you and I spend and say the same thing.
But you can’t put a price on devotion. I remember once having a conversation about a piece of jewelry someone purchased for their spouse. And it was clear they felt kind of self-conscious about it, like I might be judging the expenditure. I wasn’t. In reality, I was in awe of their devotion, because clearly this act of generosity was rooted entirely in love. It wasn’t about being loud or showy or trying to impress anyone. It was meant only to say, “I love you.”
Jesus makes that same point in addressing the disciples here. Some may have called it a waste, but Jesus saw it as a precious gift. Clearly it was every bit as meaningful to him as it was to her. And so the gospel writers included the story that it might stir our hearts too – even millennia later.
You can’t put a price on devotion. When we witness great acts of generosity and kindness, will we judge them or choose to be inspired by them?
by Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Do you find yourself judging others’ expenditures? Has anyone ever judged something you gave out of love? What do you think causes us to do this? How might we set those thoughts aside?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for loving us so much. When we are tempted to judge others’ acts of love and devotion, help us to step back instead in awe and appreciation. Inspire us today to love more deeply and more generously. Amen.