Saturday 6 April 2019

The gospel passage for this Sunday comes from the 12th Chapter of John,v.1/8
A dinner party was held to honour Jesus who had just raised Lazarus from being dead. So, there was a man just back from the dead, sharing a table with a man about to die.

The party was being held at the home of Lazarus and his two sisters Mary and Martha at a small village on the outskirts of Jerusalem, where Jesus would be going to within a few hours to give up his life on the Cross, six days hence.

Mary had acquired from somewhere a very expensive jar of perfume, it was an oil extracted from a plant grown in India called nard. In order to understand the value in our world today, it would cost thousands of pounds.

Mary was sitting by the feet of Jesus when she began to pour the oil on his feet, and the whole room became filled with an intoxicating fragrance. When Mary began to massage them, this was considered to be above all convention and normal standards of custom and decency, and she even went further and wiped with her hair.

Mary was not concerned about what people thought of her, she just wanted to show her devotion to Jesus.

John tells that Judas who was a form of treasurer for the Apostles became indignant at the wasteful extravagance of Mary, but the other gospel writers state it was not only Judas, but some of the other Apostles as well, for the perfume was worth a full year’s wages.

For Mary it was not wasteful, for she loved Jesus dearly and foresaw what was to happen to him. Any one who has ever sat by the side of someone they loved, and knew they were in the throes of death, would fully understand the feelings of Mary, that nothing would be too much to give that person.

She went to that party for the sole purpose of serving Jesus, the food and all else was incidental. What she did for Jesus was both personal and profound, with a deep feeling of love which only those who have been through can know.

Jesus revealed his feelings by acknowledging Mary’s act, and rebuking the claim that there was anything wrong in what she did.
There are plenty of people today who never go near a Church, but keep on telling how any Church money should go to the poor; if they are so concerned there is nothing to stop them giving themselves.

Mary was not ashamed nor afraid to display her feelings for Jesus; real love cannot be explained, only felt.We must remember at the time of this incident, women would not mix with men, each would have defined roles, the kitchen bedroom being the only rooms where both met.

What a lesson for all Christians to day when the world is so much against us, and particularly those weak-willed Church members who like to hide the fact they attend Church. How a person feels inside, is often revealed on the outside.

There things about worship for all of us to note and reflect on. In our services now we see widely different attitudes and responses. Some people are like a driver going on to a forecourt for petrol, filling up and driving away after paying by card at the machine, they just pop in and out of the service. Others like a lot of pomp and ceremony, but tend to be less concerned with having bible teaching.Yet others like singing, music and a bible lesson.

I find it amusing how people who sing and clap in church are mocked widely from both in and out of Church as ‘happy clappy’.
Some are the same people who go to a football match singing their heads off, waving their arms about whilst wearing coloured outfits, and go mad when a player does what he is paid massively for doing, scoring a goal sometimes with an outstretched foot and accidentally.

Mary realized the great privilege that was hers. No woman would normally be allowed near a Rabbi,s foot, but obviously Jesus wanted Mary to be with him, and she knew her deepest need for God was to be near Jesus. She wanted the teaching Jesus could offer, how sad so few want to hear such teaching, and how shameful that in many Churches and bible studies, it is denied and false teaching is given to meet the pleasure and satisfaction of society. There is always the temptation to separate the sacred from the secular, but for a true Christian they are inseparable. We cannot compartmentalize our lives into the sacred and ordinary, for God there is no division, he uses the ordinary to reveal the sacred.

When you approach the Lord’s table to take the bread and wine, recognize this meal is set apart as a reminder for us, all our life is a thanksgiving for what Jesus did for us on the Cross. We come to meet with Jesus, and if that is really what we mean, he will meet with us.

Concern was raised at the expense Mary gave away and we hear all the time the Church should sell its properties and give the money to the poor, said by people who would never give anything to anyone, however poor the person was. Just malevolence, not anything religious.

Finally, one great truth. There are somethings which we will never do unless we do them when we can. So often we put off doing some kind gesture, and it never gets done and we live to regret it.

How often when a person dies, we say if only I had said how much I loved them; or how much I wished I could have gone to see them but didn’t. Too often someone we really loved at heart but didn’t tell them dies, or when we were not as kind as we could have been, and a life is spent in remorse and it is said if I could only let him/her know how much I appreciated them.
There is a time for doing and saying and when lost, are lost for ever.

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