Jesus was sharing a meal with his friends. Suddenly an uninvited guest finds her way to the table and behind Jesus. Quickly and quitely she poors the ointment over his head. She is known by those hosting the meal as a disreputable woman, not the kind of person you would want at a dinner party. The oinment is expensive and the response they make is typically religious, ‘That’s criminal! A sheer waste! This perfume could have been sold for well over a year’s wages and handed out to the poor.’

Jesus’ response is different, not religious at all, clearly seeing into the heart of this woman and speaking with compassion he says, “Let her alone. Why are you giving her a hard time? She has just done something wonderfully significant for me. You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives. Whenever you feel like it, you can do something for them. Not so with me. She did what she could when she could—she pre-anointed my body for burial. And you can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she just did is going to be talked about admiringly.” Mark 14:5-8 (The Message)

It is clear from the outset that Jesus means our devotion to God preceeds our need to help the poor in importance, but he carries on to say, ‘You will have the poor with you every day for the rest of your lives. Whenever you feel like it, you can do something for them.’  The quiet civility of the dinner party is shattered by an unwelcome figure who does something ‘wonderfully significant’ for Jesus. Yet his words to the guests are about doing something for the poor. We don’t need to have a great deal of money to help those who have nothing or very little. What we need is the will to do what we can with what we have. Back in 1963 US President John F. Kennedy said, ‘We do not lack the resources to end world hunger, what we lack is the will’. It appears still, in 2010, we still lack the will not the resources.

Lord, in the light of our self-satisfaction help us remember that where there is a will there is a way. Let our wills be open to your call to do something for the poor today. Bless the poorest people who do not have enough to meet their daily physical need and especially at this time the people of Haiti. Amen.

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