Yesterday, I walked out of the house, arrived at my destination, and realized that I had forgotten to put on my jewelry. When that happens, I always feel a bit incomplete.
I wear four bracelets on my right arm. Each one was given to me by a person that I love. The bracelets are symbolic and hold a special meaning for me. Wearing them daily is a reminder of my relationship with the one who gave me the bracelet and of the occasion when I received the gift. Forgetting to put them on yesterday was a gentle reminder of how significant these gifts are to me.
For the fifth Sunday of Lent, the gospel reading is John 12:1-8. In this story, we find Jesus receiving a significant gift.
Jesus is at the home of his friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. He is there for a dinner where he is the special guest. As the friends and guests are gathered at the table, Mary stands and breaks open a jar of expensive perfume. She kneels beside Jesus and begins to pour the perfume on his feet.
When I close my eyes and picture this scene in my mind, I imagine the hush of the room. I hear people murmur, “what is she doing?” I imagine that Jesus looks down at her with love, and then he looks at the others with a glance that says, “let her be – let her give this gift to me.”
Mary’s gift is not practical. It is lavish. Her gift is loving, symbolic, and meaningful.
Jesus receives her gift and quiets those who would protest this offering. He accepts this anointing and wears the fragrance of the nard on his body as he travels his journey to the cross.
The memory of Mary’s gift will be reflected in Jesus when he kneels at the feet of his disciples and washes their feet, offering to them a gift of love that they will carry with them in the days ahead.
Jesus will wear the memory of this beautiful gift all the way to the cross. The scent of the perfume will linger on his body, but only as a reminder that the real gift was love – love poured out by Mary to the Christ who loved her.