It is Palm Sunday, and year B, so we read the passion account from the Gospel of Mark. I love the story, near the beginning of the narrative, of the woman of Bethany who crashes the dinner where Jesus was the invited guest, and anoints him with expensive perfume. What an amazing Gospel character! During Passover time, it was customary to give alms to the poor, and so Jesus’ critics tried to use this against the woman. “… This waste of perfumed oil … it could have been sold … and the money given to the poor.” But Jesus affirms and defends her, praising her action. Jesus does not let helping the poor be played off against doing something beautiful and caring. We all have enough resources to enjoy and use precious things and to take care of the poor. The problem comes in when we put enjoying precious things first, and then use only leftovers to give to the poor. Jesus was not grim! He enjoyed parties, he did not make his disciples fast, and he had rich friends. But he also had a compassionate heart for the poor, and righteous anger at those who made excuses to ignore helping them. I’ll be giving thanks for this lady as I put on a bit of scent this Sunday before Mass!
– Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia