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God's Extravagant Love


Readings: Isa 42:1-7; John 12:1-11

Scripture: Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. (John 12:3)

Reflection: What an outrageous and magnificent display of love we see in today’s gospel. Although the practical types, Judas among them, tsk-tsked at the apparent waste of valuable oil, Mary knew better. There was nothing too good for the Messiah, nothing that should be spared or withheld—not because he demanded extravagance but because his very presence demanded an extraordinary response, one that could be fulfilled only by an action above and beyond our wildest expectations. Imagine for a moment that scene in today’s gospel. Imagine a woman walking into a room and not only pouring oil over the feet of the guest of honor but then drying his feet with her hair. Her hair. So much humility, honor, devotion, love in that gesture. Where would she have found the courage to make such a bold statement, to put her reputation on the line in order to do what needed to be done? And we hear that the fragrance filled the house. There was no containing this action, this moment; it spread into every corner until everything within striking distance was infused with the scent.

And Jesus does not stop her. He does not put up his hand and say, “No, no.” Instead he rebukes Judas, saying, “You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” Mary must have felt relieved at those words, and perhaps confused, although her action shows that she understood far more than Judas did. Hers was a quiet, constant devotion that eventually spilled over, carried along by perfumed oil.

Meditation: Has there ever been a time when your faith prompted you to do something outrageous or beyond practicality? Perhaps you left a job to follow a calling, donated more than was reasonable to a worthy cause, put aside every fear and trusted completely during a difficult time, cried uncontrollable tears at the recognition of God’s presence in your life. And perhaps someone questioned it. Own that action today, not with pride but with pure joy for the gift that it was. Whenever we do something outrageous in service to God, we can be sure the Spirit is at work!

Prayer: Our God is an awesome God, a God of extravagance and abundance and more than enough. Thank you, God, for sending us the Spirit who, like perfumed oil, fills the gaps and voids in our souls with the perfume of your unending love.


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Tagged: Faith Lent Religious

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