“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 … said …, ‘Why was the ointment wasted in this way? ….And they scolded her….But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone; why do you trouble her?…. She has performed a good service for me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial.” (Mark 14:3-8)
Jesus was someone to whom the others would listen, even when he disagreed with them. Jesus was deeply moved by the woman’s generosity. He knew the cost of the ointment. He also knew what costly events were coming his way.
The woman chose to act against “accepted” behavior and make herself vulnerable to the others at the table, including Jesus. Jesus had power in this situation. In response to her initiative, he chose to share some of this power with the woman, thereby empowering her in the sight of the group.
When was the last time someone had compassion on you? When have you been moved by compassion to share what power you have with a stranger?
This message is adapted from a stewardship devotion written by Mary Ingram Zentner for Women of the ELCA in 1998.