She did what she could

I wish I could remember the story. Someone’s last words at the end of a long life of service to God and others was quoting a verse: “she did what she could.”

Mark tells a story about a dinner late in the life of Jesus. It’s in Bethany, at the house of someone known as Simon the Leper.

I would guess that Jesus had healed Simon. People identified as carriers of a contagious skin disease didn’t have dinner parties. If they did, no one came.

The room full of people is eating. A woman walks in carrying a white perfume jar. She opens it and pours it on Jesus’ head.

There is an uproar. She’s scolded for wasting good perfume on Jesus.

Which is an interesting idea. If it had been cheap perfume, would that have been better? Although they said that the perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor, I don’t think they cared about the poor. I’m guessing that the combination of the woman in the room, the unusual anointing, and the extreme expense combined to cause a ruckus.

it's @hope_swanson. baker.Jesus stops the attack. He accepts her action as appropriate for him, regardless of whether anyone else thought it appropriate. Although he doesn’t minimize caring for the poor in other settings, here he accepts the gift directly for him. And he says, “She did what she could.”

It makes me ask us, you and me, “what can we do?” What’s an extravagance we can waste on God?

Time is at a premium. We could squander some time with God. Attention is in short supply. We could pour out some attention on what God attends to. Personal space, the top of the to-do list, the last word.

I’d love to be standing in a room, scolded by people, and hear “Stop. He did what he could.”

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About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

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