Over the last few months, I’ve met with many of you to learn about your lives, hear of the dreams God’s planted in your hearts, and weave a story of where the Spirit is alive at St. Michael’s. It’s been–you have been—a gift, overflowing with pain, honesty and hope.
In one of these conversations, one among you reflected on their experience of this parish’s practices, and I scrambled to write it in my trusty notebook: ‘Duty does things well, but love does things beautifully.’
On Sunday, we read from John’s gospel, ‘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.’ Judas immediately flinched and criticized this immense generosity given by one faithful woman in Jesus’ honor. Every time I read this story I think of the ways God’s love is so abundant, wasteful even, our human hearts cannot comprehend it. We flinch and wonder, ‘How can this be so? Surely God’s love is used better elsewhere.’ We concern ourselves with practicalities over relationships. This is a human condition.
But not for all. At St. Michael’s, the beauty of Mary’s gift of nard moves from metaphor to embodiment. Here, you’re finding ways for love to create a fragrant perfume that pervades the house and even wafts into the streets, reminding people that beauty is possible when we move beyond simple checking-of-the-boxes and into full devotion.
There is much to bemoan or regret in this world, yes. But we’ll never fail in our mission if we follow Mary’s example and practice extravagant and generous love.
Where might you move from duty to love, from doing something well into doing it beautifully this week, beloved? How can you show that love as a veritable outpouring of God’s own love to the world? Where are you called as we walk with devotion alongside Jesus and the disciples to the cross during Holy Week? May you be blessed to become a fragrant offering of love, grateful (as Mary was) for the gift of reurrection anywhere it shows itself.