The identity of the woman in the Gospels who anointed Jesus' feet with oil is unknown in that each Gospel that tells the story gives the woman a different name. One says it is Mary, the sister of Martha. Another says it is Mary Magdalene. Another just says a woman did it. Regardless of whether or not we can know the true identity of the one who performed the act, it is the act itself that is the main idea of the story. As the woman anointed Jesus with the oil and used her hair and tears to wash Jesus' feet, she was performing an act of love to express how she felt about the one she loved and adored.
Jesus expressed love for those around him who needed to hear his message of love so much. The poor, the oppressed, the outcasts...all were people in society that felt worthless. Jesus expressed love to them in the way he treated them. As he touched the leper, ate meals with those called sinners by the religious authorities, and included those in society who were thought to be unclean he was expressing an inclusion that brought them into his circle in an age that lived for and practiced exclusion as a sign of being part of God's family.
Jesus' encounters demonstrated the interdependence of life in which our lives emerge from countless factors and add something to the world around us. We are all part of the intricately connected "body of Christ" that embraces our faith community and our world. Giving and receiving are part of the cosmic existence of which we are all a part. As we welcome others to be part of our lives and express love to them in so many ways, we are uniting in spirit with the God who enables us to love and be loved freely. We are all partners in the inter-relatedness of all creation. Those who give today may be vulnerable tomorrow, and in need of loving touch and gentle care. This is the foundation of Christian generosity.
We grow in spirit when we let the poor give to us out of their apparent material scarcity and when we share our abundance not out of our superiority to the poor but in recognition of our common humanity. God's bounty flows through our lives to others and returns to us in unexpected ways and from unexpected sources when we awaken to the essential interdependence of life.
Affirm for yourself today:
I give and receive God's love in every encounter.
I am constantly giving and receiving grace and love throughout the day.
I give and receive God's love in specific encounters each day.
Abundant God, we open our hands to receive your blessings as we share your blessings with others. We open our hands to receive from those to whom we give. Bless our gifts and inspire us to holy receptivity as we live each day by your abundant grace. Amen.