Posted On March 23, 2024

Am I grasping, or am I grateful?

Today’s Gospel for Palm Sunday opens with a stark contrast two of the most striking figures in the Gospels: Judas the Apostle, and the unnamed woman who anointed Jesus with perfumed oil (See Mark chapters 14-15).

“There were some who were indignant.” The irony is that these words describe not Judas’ decision to look “for an opportunity to hand [Jesus] over,” but rather certain bystanders’ reaction to this woman’s extravagant gesture of love. Ever since I discovered “Keep My Heart Tender” by Beau Maddox and Michaela Gentile, this song has spoken to me. The lyrics reference the woman “with that alabaster jar / pouring out everything.” Today on Palm Sunday, I think we can make this refrain our own:

Oh that You would have the glory

I just want to see You honored

Oh that You would have the glory

Let my life be praise to You.

Only a heart that is tender and pure can love as boldly as this woman loved Jesus. It must have been uncomfortable to be surrounded by so many men who were “indignant” and “infuriated with her”, as the Gospel describes. We are told that “some” were indignant. I wonder how the others felt? What did they think as the perfume filled the room and as they saw Jesus receive this anointing?

When I contemplate this woman “wasting” her jar of oil, the only explanation I can give is that she must have been deeply grateful for her encounter with Jesus; so grateful that she couldn’t help but pour out everything in response. Duty doesn’t get us that far. Rules don’t either. Only an encounter with Love has the momentum to make us risk being totally poured out.

Sadly, Judas didn’t get it. He was grasping, not grateful. We all have a little Judas inside. Today let us ask God in His mercy to teach us a different posture. Let us offer the sacrifice of praise and gratitude to the One who loves us first.

Reflection questions

  1. Holy Spirit, grant me Your light today to see more clearly: where am I grateful, and where am I grasping?
  2. Jesus, how can I receive today from the tenderness and purity of Your own heart?

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