This week we focus on the story of how Martha and Mary ministered to Jesus prior to his crucifixion. In hearing the story, we learn about the power of love, the significance of our actions and what it means to have a relationship of grace.
Lent is traditionally a time of “letting go”. Sometimes those actions have been trivialized by setting aside habits or foods that are peripheral to our lives. The actions of Mary and Martha, and the prophetic hope of “new things”, call us to a deeper spirituality and solidarity with others. We often speak of grace as what God extends to us. But gracious actions form the ministry of these women to Jesus. Mary in particular acts outside of traditional ways for the sake of embodying grace that is timely and relational. What are the transformative possibilities of such gracious ministries in our lives and communities? How might such ministries reach out to the marginalized?
“Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair” (John 12:3).
In times of difficulty, it can be jarring when we notice extravagance. When resources are precious, it can seem wasteful to toss them about. Yet today’s gospel reading is about exactly that. Mary offers up extremely costly perfume to anoint Jesus’ feet as a gracious act of thanksgiving, and Jesus affirms her act. Yet the actual cost is undoubtedly secondary to the fact that Mary, through this generosity, is recognizing Jesus as one worthy of all our thanks and praise, no matter the cost.
What has God done for you, that might lead you to offer up all you have in thanksgiving? This week, volunteer at or give generously to a gracious ministry in your church or community that reaches out to the marginalized.