Beloved Jesus, what can I give You in return for everything You have done for me? Nothing! Nothing equals Your love spilled on the Cross. May my life, Lord, be a continuous praise to Your unlimited, unequaled love! Amen.
For Palm Sunday, before we get caught up in the Passion of the Cross -- the hardships and sufferings and death of Jesus that he endured because of his tremendous love for us -- let's take a look at the passion of the woman who anointed Jesus with perfume.
In those days, there were no deodorants and indoor plumbing for taking showers to get rid of body odors caused by the hot, sweaty climate. And bath-houses were not readily available for everyone. So people made perfumes. After creating a mixture of oils and herbs, they let it sit in a jar to ferment. The longer they stored it, the more potent -- and valuable -- it became.
For the perfume in this scripture to be a "costly" gift for Jesus, it must have been fermenting for a very long time.
When we want to give someone a gift, we usually head to the store to buy something new. Right? But our most precious possessions are those that have been important to us for many years. Giving them to others feels like a very huge sacrifice.
What do you hold onto because it means so much to you? What has been fermenting in value because you've had it for such a long time?
Can you imagine giving it away? Most of us couldn't do it unless we feel very passionate about the person to whom we give it. The giving has to be more valuable than the keeping. This happens only because of love.
How passionate do you feel about Jesus? What's so precious to you that it's hard to let go of -- something that he'd appreciate receiving from you? Are you willing to sacrifice this because of the love you feel for him? Do you feel that much love for him?
In other words, what's in your alabaster jar? Are you ready to pour it out to Jesus, freely and generously?
Think about what he poured out for you so freely and generously. Think about this all week, at Mass on Holy Thursday, and on Good Friday, and in the tomb-like quiet of Holy Saturday.
And again, ask yourself: "What's so precious that it's hard to let go of -- something that Jesus would appreciate receiving?" And then give it to him before the week ends; he will give you a new victory on Easter.
Questions for Personal Reflection: Prayerfully imagine yourself sitting at the feet of Jesus. Knowing what Holy Week is all about and the sacrifice he made for you on the Cross, how do you feel about him? What gift can you give him as a thank-you? Nothing seems good enough, but what's so precious to you that anointing Jesus with it will be a gift of sacrificial love?
Questions for Community Faith Sharing: What's in your alabaster jar? What talents or treasures or wisdom have you stored up, saved, protected, and developed, or what have you put on a shelf and forgotten about? As we prepare for Good Friday, come up with ideas on how to offer these saved-up gifts to Jesus. Why are these gifts like perfume to Jesus?