Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.
“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
She got it.
This alabaster jar of perfume was most likely her dowry, her future, her one guarantee of survival as a woman in this time. It was all she had to offer. It was connected to her status, and what had been provided for her security.
And she broke it. With extravagance born from love, she poured it out, anointing Jesus on the head like the King He is, and making herself utterly vulnerable: spiritually, socially, financially.
This example – which Jesus says will always be remembered – teaches us that what God calls us to is not just a redistribution of resources, but into a complete reorientation of relationship. Transformed giving includes, but is not limited to, simply changing out who uses what money. Jesus’ words here put acts of giving in perspective: God does not need our money as much as He longs for our hearts to be attached only to Him. And this begins with letting go, with containers being broken.
The poor are a gift to us, calling us to live the love of God out loud and, as He says, this always will impact how and where we leverage the resources He has given to us. But the first giving Jesus longs for is the gift of a heart that is broken open to Him. Then, ordinary resources are transformed to instruments of worship. Then, anonymous people mark the world forever with the love of God.
The Real Question: Am I broken open to the love of God? Am I willing to allow His love to break into my life in radical, new ways?
Family Talk: What is your favorite possession (toy, game, electronic device, etc.)? What would it be like to give it away to someone else?
ONE in Prayer: God of All, I give you myself. I surrender the self-contained alabaster jar of my life to be broken open by your love and poured out; so that all may see that you are the King of who I am. I love you. Amen.