Monday, April 18, 2011


Two Gospels tell the story of the anointing of Jesus.

In Mark's Gospel It is two days before Passover, the host is Simon the leper, the woman is not named and the oil is poured on Jesus' head. In John's Gospel, it is six days before Passover, the host is Lazarus (recently raised from the dead,) and it is Mary who produces the expensive perfume and pours it on his feet.

This is the kind of inconsistency that drives Bible scholars crazy... conflicting versions of what is apparently the same story. The truth will always lie somewhere in between. The point of the story, of course, has nothing to do with head or feet or when or where... or maybe even who.

And the point can change for us with each new reading, depending on what we need to hear.

This is the difference between the living Word of God and words on a page that are chiseled in stone, with one point, one interpretation.

Living with elderly sisters gives me a new spin on this story. Jesus said "You will always have the poor." He might just as well have said "You will always have emails to answer or dust bunnies to sweep." For NOW, be kind in the moment. Honor the interactions that express love, patience, service. You will not always have these opportunities.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Thank you for illuminating the holy tree, the branching perspectives embedded in the Gospel. Here is sweet testimony to the heartfelt and human voiced in these accounts, and to a grace that refuses our desire to put truth at our command.