THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
The Lenten season is often viewed as a sombre time. Few people celebrate or enjoy repentance, and the word “discipline” is seldom associated with celebration. Yet, this week, as we enter the final stretch of Lent before the Holy Week journey through Jesus’ suffering, the Lectionary calls us to celebrate. The Gospel reading from John tells of Mary’s extravagant display of devotion to Jesus as she anointed his feet with expensive perfume and dried them with her hair. The Old Testament reading from Isaiah, and the Psalm which is set for this week, call God’s people to celebrate God’s salvation. It may feel strange to speak of celebration in Lent, but all the heart-searching, discipline, and repentance is about becoming whole, living up to our best selves, and enjoying the abundant life that comes from the loving, sacrificial way of Jesus. Mary’s offering is a challenging example of such celebratory devotion.
It can be easy, when faced with the suffering and evil of our world, to lose the capacity to celebrate. It can be easy to become cynical, pessimistic, and despairing as we wait for God’s justice to fill the world. Yet, if we allow ourselves to lose hope and joy, we also lose our capacity to experience God’s life, and to contribute to bringing healing and justice into our small corner. When we live from fear, we become self-protective hoarders who try to hold on to what we have in case things go wrong. Yet, in her love for Jesus and her trust of his way, Mary easily let go of what little wealth she had in order to give herself to the Reign of God that Jesus proclaimed. Following Jesus is not about becoming overly serious and sombre, and it’s not about clinging to survival. Rather, the way of Jesus is the way of extravagant sharing, joyful celebration, and trusting love. This is the call of our meditations this week.
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