You do not always have me

Dearly Beloved,
Grace and Peace to you.
         Mary anointed Jesus’ feet.
         Judas said, “Why was this perfume not sold
                  and the money given to the poor?”
         Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it
                  so that she might keep it for the day of my burial.
         You always have the poor with you,
                  but you do not always have me.”

                           —from John 12.3-8

Jesus ponders his recent raising of Lazarus from the dead. He ponders the nature of death and mortality. He knows he is going to die soon. The future haunts him.

The disciples don’t see it, but Mary does. She anoints him with oil of comfort and healing, of protection and honor. A whole pound of it, a full jar, for that is how much she loves him. Even suspecting the sorrow to come, in this moment she pours out the perfume of her joy. She blesses these feet that soon will have to bear a terrible burden. The fragrance fills the house. And for this one brief moment in this long, brutal story, someone does something kind for Jesus.

Time stops; the moment shines. It feels good on his feet, good in his heart. For this moment he is at peace; he is loved. Mary has brought him from his memories and fears and responsibilities into the present moment—where there is overabundant blessing.

Jesus’s defense of her prodigal act is not ignoring the poor, or the disciples’ need to feed them. He is inviting them back into the present moment, where she has brought him. She is preparing his body for burial while she can. This is her chance. Jesus says, “You can help the poor as long as you live, and you should—but we are here, now, in this moment. You will not always have me.” Live in the present moment. Choose while you can. Bless while you can. Love while you can.

You will not always have each other. May God give you the faith to pour out the jar of your love this day, while you can. May it be for those who receive it a blessing for what they have suffered, or what is to come. May you find abundant grace in the present moment. Even now the Tender One is bathing your feet in her oil of gladness.

Deep Blessings,
Pastor Steve

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

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