I attended a real western gala in San Antonio over the weekend, replete with boots, hats, denim covered with rhinestones, and other faux cowboy/cowgirl apparel. I had to borrow appropriate clothes, thus I sported more bling than my usual proper presidential attire. I did look less boring, to be sure.
It was a benefit for disabled children, creating access for their participation in baseball. The founder of the program believed that his wife was carrying a special needs child, according to test results. In the end, their daughter did not have Down Syndrome, but the prospect of that spurred him to start Miracle League of San Antonio.
I got to see people at their best as they gave generously to this worthy cause. The silent auction garnered significant funds, and then the public auction drew even more. I dared not twitch, or I might have bought an opportunity to go turkey hunting in Texas. What impressed me most was the willingness of people to stretch their resources to express their care for this particular mission.
One of the readings for Monday of Holy Week recounts the generosity of Mary of Bethany as she lavishes Jesus with her love.
Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume (John 12:3).
Judas was critical of her action, suggesting that a better use of her gift would have been to sell it and give the proceeds to the poor. Jesus saw through his guile, and said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial” (12:7).
The Gospel of Mark offers a similar narrative of self-giving, an anticipatory anointing of Jesus for his burial. In response, he said “Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her” (14:9). Remarkable is Jesus’ prescience about his death; remarkable is Jesus’ humility in elevating this woman.
As we make our slow way through Holy Week, we are drawn into the greatest story of costly love. The Triune God allows the disruption of death to intrude into the eternal communion of relationships to create space for the godforsaken. God makes our story God’s own story, and we are claimed in life and death.
Molly T. Marshall
Central prepares women and men for seeking God, shaping church, and serving humanity.