Monday, April 6, 2020

The Longest Lent--Using Our Gifts

The Monday of Holy Week always has the story of Mary anointing the feet of Jesus and drying them with her long hair (John 12:1-10):

Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany,
where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served,
while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him.
Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil
made from genuine aromatic nard
and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair;
the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples,
and the one who would betray him, said,
“Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages
and given to the poor?”
He said this not because he cared about the poor
but because he was a thief and held the money bag
and used to steal the contributions.
So Jesus said, “Leave her alone.
Let her keep this for the day of my burial.

You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

I have pondered this verse much and wrote a reflection for CatholicMom a few years ago, about counting the cost. What I love about Scripture is how it's the living, breathing Word of God--yes, that's God talking to us!--and how the Holy Spirit illuminates our minds, pointing to whatever we need to pay attention to in our lives. One thing struck me reading this passage today is to make sure we are using our gifts for the greater glory of God. See, Judas was keeper of the money, probably because he was good in math and money management, but he uses his gift in the wrong way. He betrays Jesus with 30 pieces of silver. He doesn't recognize Mary's worship.  

Over the past few years, I question myself whenever I get excited about a writing project--Is this pleasing to God? Will this help build His Kingdom? Is this going to bring people closer to Him? If I can answer "Yes!" I proceed confidently and in peace. There is so much joy in this writing life but I have to guard myself against the temptation to seek worldly success. Oh, the pride of life! I've taken to praying the Litany of Humility on a weekly basis--it's helping me develop a healthy detachment from the things of this world. Alas, I was thinking how far I've come because there was a time, not too long ago, that I couldn't even get through this prayer, and so you see how pride rears its head. So yeah, en garde! I feel that my role is to keep writing faithfully and letting God take care of the rest. Our bees give me much to contemplate. 

I leave you with a beautiful song, Alabaster Box, sung by Julie Meyer, which I first heard sung by Donna Earnhardt, now our Carolinas RA for SCBWI. Let us be like Mary of Bethany, giving our best to Jesus! Oh Mary, pray for us that we repent and return to Him with our whole hearts.  


Jenni said...

I love this line: I feel like my role is to keep on writing and let God take care of the rest. Well said. Wishing you and your family a blessed holy week and Easter!

Donna Earnhardt said...

Love you much, my sweet friend and your posts always make me think! I believe this is a time to press into the Lord with a joy, peace, and intention -- do exactly what you said to do... seek after HIS heart in all things, being a good steward of the gifts He's given us. That is what I've been hearing, too!

Mirka Breen said...

I doubt all my stories please G-d. But I do try not to DISplease him. Sometimes they are just quirky little fluffy things, other times much more. This verse from Christopher Logue poem rings through my mind:
"Be not too hard
For life is short
and nothing
is given
to man.
Be not to hard
When he is sold and bought
And must manage as best he can..."

Vijaya said...

Thank you Jenni. God is in control. Always has. Always will.

Donna, "time to press into the Lord with a joy, peace, and intention"--Amen.

Mirka, what a beautiful poem. Thank you. I think fluffy little things can bring great joy!