Lent Reflections - Beautiful things and right choices
The Lent reflection this week comes from Matthew 26:6-16 and Luke 10:38-42.
“While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Then one of the Twelve - the one called Judas Iscariot - went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over." Matthew 26:6-16
Have you ever tried to describe the word ‘beautiful’ to someone? We define something as being beautiful, but what does the word actually mean? One could say that something beautiful is perceived by the eyes of the beholder. In other words, what is beautiful to me might not be beautiful to someone else. Jesus claimed that Mary’s act of pouring the expensive perfume from the alabaster box as her doing a beautiful thing to him. So much so that she would be remembered for it throughout the ages. As the period of Lent encourages us to recognise and appreciate the cost of our sinfulness, Mary’s pouring out of this perfume was a visible expression of her love for Jesus. Jesus saw this act of love as preparation for his burial. Are all the things we do genuine acts of love, or are there underlying motives which detract from the genuineness of our actions? People are attracted to what comes across as wholehearted and sincere. It does not necessarily follow that everyone will appreciate what we do and say.
“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed - or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
Jesus observes the two sisters and makes this assessment - “Martha … you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed - or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her”. This encourages us to find the best way to meet someone’s need. What we end up doing might not be the first thing that comes to mind. There was no criticism of who the sisters were by nature, but rather that Mary had made the right choice. We live in a world where there is much to do, much rushing about and very little time to assess what is really going on and what is needed to be the best and get the best out of every situation. We need to cultivate the art of being still so that we don’t put our foot in it and make unnecessary blunders. The situation we face might be the only one we have in a lifetime to hear or act upon what is best, not only for ourselves but for someone else as well.