(Rogier Van der Weyden 1445, detail--from The Edge of the Enclosure)
For Holy Week, I'm putting together a set of meditations based on an absolutely wonderful set of prayers, Scripture, and art put together on Suzanne Guthrie's The Edge of the Enclosure website. The Scripture texts are out of Mark's Gospel. She has added some wonderful hymns and collects to them on her site. She then asks that you consider your own responses to them.
What I've done on my site is focus my responses on a phenomenon that has certainly enriched my life in the past few years--my discovery of new friends and an expanded community via the Internet, blogging, and social networking. What I ask you to do, in your reflection on these texts and my response, is consider your own community in the world of your own virtual connections. I ask that God opens all of our hearts to allow virtual presence to call us to real presence.
So here we go!
A woman of Bethany Anoints Jesus
It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him; for they said, "Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people."
While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. But some were there who said to one another in anger, "Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor." And they scolded her. But Jesus said, "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."
Why did she spend her money on that?
I know she can’t afford it.
Day after day, her status updates talk about how hard her life is—
How hard it is to make ends meet…
How hard it is to rear her kids as a single parent…
How difficult the other people in her life are.
Oh, I think I know her. But really, when you come right down to it, I don’t.
I only know what she tells me of her.
I don’t know of her past wounds. I don’t know of the journey she has taken already in this life.
Oh, Lord, and you know…I’ve never asked. I’ve judged her at face value.
I’ve ignored even bothering to explore behind her words, because she annoys me.
Immortal God, grant me the courage to merely ask if there is something I can do for her.