Mark 14:3,6,8 – When he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. "She has done a beautiful thing to me." said Jesus. "She did what she could."
Aunt Edna prided herself on her independence. No one was allowed to assist her in the maintenance of her home or even to drive her to and from her dialysis treatments. She was a good and generous person, but absolutely refused to be what she considered "a burden" to anyone, or, I suspect, beholden to anyone.
After she died, several family members got together to prepare her house for sale, weeding gardens, washing windows, cleaning out closets, and repairing sticky doors. We enjoyed working together, but regretted that we never experienced the joy of pleasing Aunt Edna by doing "what we could" for her while she was alive.
It's very difficult to let ourselves "break the jar and pour the perfume" to express our love and appreciation for each other. How many of us are hoarding a fine bottle of wine for which no occasion seems quite special enough? For many of us, however, it's even harder to let others perform a grand, sacrificial act for our sakes. We discourage, even forbid people from expressing kindness to us so as not to trouble others or be in anyone's debt.
Jesus had no such worries. He graciously accepted acts of love and hospitality without fears of "imposing" or concerns over "reciprocating." Imagine the joy Jesus gave to others by displaying pleasure over their gifts! His love, like the fragrance of the perfume, must have filled the entire house of Simon the Leper. Would that we try to be as Christ-like in our pleasure as we try to be in our suffering!
Prayer: Loving Father, help us to express our love for each other as you have taught us through your Son, Jesus. As we have accepted your most precious gift of salvation, help us to accept the gifts from our brothers and sisters which they freely and lovingly want to share with us. In the holy name of Jesus we pray. Amen.