5. Mark 14:4-5
But some were there who said to one another in anger, “Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.”
We’ve already asked why this woman would make such an extravagant gift. An equally important question is why would it provoke such anger in others. I suspect it’s because anger, in a sense, is the opposite of gratitude. The woman gives freely because, aware of her great blessing, she is caught up in a sense of abundance. The others, however, can only see lack and scarcity and because of this can only wish to control, to hoard, and to manage.
How true that is in my own life. When I count my blessings I am blessed yet again with a sense of abundance, gratitude, and generosity. Yet when I focus on what I still want, what I lack, then I become afraid and, sometimes, that fear that there is not enough makes me miserly, even angry.
The culture we live in depends upon a sense of lack to function. If we do not feel inadequate, or lacking, or that we don’t have enough, we will not keep buying things we don’t really need and keep this massive economy going. From an early age we are therefore taught that we don’t have enough, that the answer to fear is to have more, that we ourselves are not enough. The messages are so regular and relentless that it is difficult not to surrender.
Can it be, therefore, that part of being the community of Christ is to remind each other that God has given us enough? Enough to have, enough to share, enough to be happy in this life together. There are, I think, two choices in front of us – to focus on our blessings and respond with the open hand of gratitude and generosity, or focus on our lack and respond with the closed fist of fear and anger. The choice, ultimately, is too difficult to make alone, and so we need each other to remind us of God’s abundance and love.
Prayer: Dear God, grant us grateful hearts and fashion us into a community of gratitude that reminds each other and witnesses to the world of your abundant mercy and grace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.