Friday 2nd July
Women Jesus Met – The Woman Who Anointed Jesus for His Death
St Matthew 26: 6 – 13
Now while Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. But when the disciples saw it, they were angry and said, ‘Why this waste? For this ointment could have been sold for a large sum, and the money given to the poor.’ But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, ‘Why do you trouble the woman? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. By pouring this ointment on my body she has prepared me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.’
Extravagance. Pleasure. Effusiveness. Exuberance. These aren’t ideas that we usually associate with Lent and the overture to Jesus’ passion, but this woman understands differently. Her gift exceeds extravagance. For me, the woman’s action gives permission to honour Jesus in extravagant ways. It warns against mistaking discipline for discipleship. It embraces affection as part of a devotion to Jesus that is nothing less than the costly, precious gift of one’s whole self. It presents a challenge to many of us who have grown up and lived all our days in non-demonstrative, naturally thrifty cultures.
What might extravagant discipleship look like for us? I think it is an attitude of heart and mind rather than selling up everything we own and purchasing the most expensive fragrance with which to beautify our sanctuaries. Extravagant discipleship leads us to praise with our whole being, God the creator, who declared the world was very good, who loves wholeheartedly and who through the gift of grace welcomes us home into the very being of God in Community. Extravagant discipleship leads us to love both God and neighbour with a fierce passion that means that we cannot turn away and close our eyes and ears to the needs of the poor who will always be with us, we cannot ignore the injustice suffered by those on the margins, we cannot continue to exploit the planet to sustain our comfortable lifestyle.
Extravagant discipleship leads us to serve with joyful hearts, not because we must but because we want to as an expression of our commitment to life in God’s way. Extravagant discipleship is joyful, it is exuberant, effusive, ebullient. There is nothing to be fearful of in extravagant discipleship, we are simply invited to be disciples with all the energy and enthusiasm we can muster, serving our Lord in whichever way we can without begrudging the cost, or commitment, the time, the energy, or the sacrifice.
Joyful, exuberant, effusive, ebullient God,
You invite us to live life in your way,
with passion, and joy, with praise and with abundance.
May these be the characteristics of my discipleship today. Amen.