It must be that the dishwasher is full because there were only four mugs in the cupboard this morning – in addition to the smaller cups that hardly hold enough for a first cup for someone like me. I chose a pastel-colored one, a design that would not jar my sleepy head too much. As I sat down the sun appeared – first tentatively and then in blazing glory – across the river to tell me to take a breath into this new day. As I did, I saw the word TRUST emblazoned across the bottom of my cup, the kernel of God’s message to me which appeared above. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, it said, and lean not into your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5) In a very small way, I think the happening in this gospel this morning – Mary pouring the anointing oil over Jesus in love – was a similarly encouraging message for what he faced in the coming week.
After the exhilaration of the ride into Jerusalem with people waving palm branches and shouting Hosanna in praise as he passed, Jesus needed to get away to find some quiet and, perhaps, deal with the anxiety of what he knew was gathering in sentiment from those who were not praising but rather plotting against him. Most likely exhausted from it all, he went to Bethany to be refreshed in the home of his friends. And Mary did not disappoint. Her extravagant gesture and loving touch, criticized by Judas because of the cost, was just what he needed to proceed with trust into what was to come.
Sometimes it doesn’t take much to get us back on track when things look bleak – or even when we’re just tired out from the happenings in our lives. Perhaps at the beginning of this week of remembrance and participation in the sufferings of Jesus, we might intend to look for things in the lives around us that need refreshment and do what we can to lighten their load with kindness. It might do more than we can imagine to restore their trust.