Six days before the Passover, Jesus went to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, the man he had raised from death. They gave a dinner for him there, which Martha helped serve; Lazarus was one of those who were sitting at the table with Jesus. Then Mary took half a litre of a very expensive perfume made of pure nard, poured all of it on Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The sweet smell of the perfume filled the whole house.
Read John 12:1–11
The most ‘useless’ thing a man ever gives a woman is an engagement ring. Yet that ‘useless’ gift, seen by some as a total extravagance, does serve a vital purpose. It shouts loudly of the love and the promise to marry which are between those two people. If it is true that ‘love makes the world go round’, then that engagement ring might not be useless after all!
Mary’s gift of expensive perfume was likewise a ‘useless’ but vital gift. It sang of the love which created the universe and, in that family, even raised the dead. It sang of that mysterious love, probably only partly understood by Mary, which would soon direct Jesus to the cross.
For us too no gift is more ‘useless’ than the one we give extravagantly to Jesus. Yet if that gift is our own lives, what wonderful use can come of the gift! A lifetime of service to people, to God’s creation, to the poorest of the poor, given out of love to Jesus, can sometimes be God’s way of changing the world!
I marvel at all you’ve given me, my loving God, especially the gift of your son, Jesus! Please accept the gift of my life, as small and ineffective as it is, as my responding gift to you. Amen.
by Rev Aub Podlich, in ‘Assurance for each Day’ (LCA, Openbook, 2004)
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