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  • Sr Siobhán

A jar of Nard

Holy Week - Monday

Reading: Mark 14: 1-10 It was two days before the Passover and the festival of unleavened bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him; for they said, ‘Not during the festival, or there may be a riot amongst the people.’

While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, 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 were there who said to one another in anger, ‘Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.’ And they scolded her. But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly, I tell you wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.’

Reflection As the feast of the Passover draws near, we learn a little more about who Jesus is and how He responds to people. While He is sharing table fellowship at the home of Simon the Leper in Bethany, the hometown of his friends, Martha, Mary and Lazarus a woman enters. Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead in Bethany, but now, it is He who is in receipt of an act of unforeseen kindness. A daughter of Abraham enters and pours an expensive jar of Nard ointment over His head; He graciously accepts a service of love from her and does not turn her away. She has recognised him for who He is and He allows her to do what she is able to do for him. He challenges those who criticise her for her act of kindness and reveals to them about what is to take place; He is about to die and she has prepared His body for burial. Filled with the Spirit of God, He reads the hearts of those who criticise her; He sees that they are not genuinely concerned about the poor and reminds them that the poor will always be in need of service and care; He knows that she has done her very best for him and He is grateful. Her act of kindness will be recounted for generations to come; her name will not be forgotten.

I am challenged in many ways by this incident; Jesus has shared table-fellowship with Simon the Leper; how willing am I am to associate with the poor, the vulnerable or any on the margins of society?

Do I recognise Jesus in the many guises that He presents himself to me each day?

She poured a jar of Nard over his head; do I bring my jar of kindness and compassion to the service of the poor?

Am I critical or judgemental of those who speak out against injustice or intolerance in our world today?

She was not put off by the scorn of the crowd in her service of love; Am I ashamed to stand for Gospel values?

Do I condemn Jesus or others by stealth? What calls to conversion are Jesus offering me during this holy season of lent?

Prayer Lord, I ask your forgiveness for the times when I have failed to recognise you in the daily encounters of my life. Through the power of your holy spirit, anoint me with the nard of kindness for all who live on the margins of society; may I be unashamed to do all that I can to relieve the anguish of spirit of those whom you place in my path each day; may I stand up and be counted for the truth; recognising you for who you are; may I serve you with love each day, Amen.


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