“You will not always have me.”

In the long gospel reading for Palm Sunday, we hear the story of the woman who anointed Jesus at Bethany.

Of the entire Sunday gospel reading from Mark, this section really struck me this year.

The woman anoints Jesus with a costly ointment from an alabaster jar that she bursts open in order to pour the ointment on his head.

The action provokes anger among observers over the ointment having been “wasted” instead of sold so that the money could be given to the poor.

Jesus responded, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”

And it’s remarkable that it’s true: Two thousand years later, the story of a woman “wasting” what she had, spending something costly on Jesus before his death, is being proclaimed to millions of people worldwide this weekend.

There is so much in this reading, so I want to focus on the seeming recklessness of this generosity.

We will not always have our loved ones with us.

So what are we holding back?

What could be the equivalent forms of reckless generosity to our loved ones who we will not always have with us?

Photo: Church in Bethany that I visited in summer 2018 with a Latin inscription from this gospel beneath the mosaic

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