Scripture – John 12:1-11
Not long after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, Martha hosted a feast for Jesus – for the man, for the friend, who brought her brother back to life. And while they are gathered around the table, Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with a very expensive perfume. So expensive in fact that it cost nearly as much as a year’s wages for a laborer. And Judas pushes back on Mary’s extravagance, saying that the money used for the perfume could have been used for the poor.
But is this really an either/or matter? Perhaps what this scripture is telling us, what Mary and Judas are telling us, what Jesus is telling us, is that it is a “both/and” matter. Jesus says, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” Jesus doesn’t dismiss the need to care for others and to care for the poor, but he acknowledges the importance of caring for oneself and allowing others to care for you.
If we listen closely enough, we hear the echo of the greatest commandant. “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” When we hear Matthew 22:37-39, we often think it tells us to love God and love others. But there is more to it than that. We must also love ourselves.
We are called to serve God first and foremost. Then we are called to care for others and ourselves. In this Lenten season, how have you cared for others and how have you cared for yourself? Think back over your Lenten discipline, whatever practice you took on or whatever thing you gave up. How has observing that Lenten discipline shaped you?
This Lenten season has looked vastly different than normal because of social distancing and the shelter in place order. What have you done to care for yourself and for others in the past few weeks? What can you do – especially during these trying times – to better care for yourself and for others?
Lord Jesus, you remind us that though we sometimes walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you are with us. You anoint us with oil. Our cup runs over. Center us and prepare us for this Holy Week. Remind us to care for ourselves as well as for others. Amen.
Take a walk. While you walk, reflect on this season of Lent and all that has changed in the world around us. Reflect on this Holy Week and how our preparations for it may be different from how we have prepared for and celebrated other Holy Weeks in the past.
Create an intentionality on your walk. Pay attention to your breath, your footsteps, and the sounds around you. Do you hear the Spirit moving? Allow that to remind you to make space for God during this week. Invite the Spirit to move within your home and within your heart this week as these devotionals guide you throughout Holy Week.