The Best We Have
Heavenly Father, that which is deepest in me reaches out with deep gratitude to You, my Lord and Savior.
Consider: "When Christians realize with heartfelt gratitude the wonder of grace and forgiveness, the inevitable consequence is an unrestrained pouring out of love" (Martin Goldsmith). The example of the woman still speaks to us today.
In the next two chapters Matthew tells the story of the Son of God's rejection by the Jewish and Roman authorities, of the crowd's refusal to save him, and of desertion, denial and betrayal by his disciples. In these verses Jesus anticipates his death, and, the authorities' scheme and the betrayer offers his services. Jesus will be alone. In scene after scene he will be treated as worthless, soon to be forgotten.
One woman knows differently. Matthew tells her story as a counterpoint to the deceit of the authorities and the short-sightedness of the disciples. She anoints Jesus' head, as kings were anointed in Israel. Jesus is the promised Messiah, the anointed one--but not the sort of Messiah they expect. Her anointing is not despite his impending death: it is for his death. His sacrifice on the cross is his central act as the Messiah. In honor of that death, anticipating its worth, she anoints his body for burial, an honor his Roman executioners will not allow. Despite the worst efforts of duplicitous authorities and weak disciples, Jesus will give himself extravagantly for us. Extravagantly, she gives the best she has to him.
The disciples' instinctive reaction is to call her actions a waste, but Jesus calls them beautiful. They are right that God's people have a commitment to the poor, but they fail to read the moment. They cannot yet imagine the cross, let alone understand its meaning. They do not realize that when its true meaning is proclaimed throughout the world it will create communities who remember her extravagance and who love Jesus extravagantly for themselves. This love for him will overflow in care for the poor as well, but, for the moment, the shadow and promise of the cross tower over everything else.
Are your instinctive reactions so often contrary to the mind and heart of Jesus? What makes you hold back, when he deserves the very best you have?
Lord Jesus, You gave so unstintingly for me. Release in me a generous spirit. May I unstintingly love You and others.
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