The Greatest Thing

One afternoon three children, two boys and a girl, entered a flower shop. They were about nine or ten years old.. They gazed around the shop and nervously approached the owner. One of the boys said: “Sir, we’d like something in yellow flowers, please.”

The man immediately realized that this was a very special occasion. He showed them some inexpensive yellow spring flowers. The boy who was the spokesman for the group shook his head. “I think we’d like something better than that.”

The man asked, “Do they have to be yellow?” The boy answered, “Yes, sir. You see, Mickey would like them better if they were yellow. He had a yellow sweater. He’d like yellow better than any other colour.”

The man asked, “Are they for his funeral?”

The boy nodded, suddenly choking up. The little girl was struggling to keep back the tears. “She’s his sister,” the boy said. “He was a great kid. A lorry hit him while he was playing in the street.”

We took up a collection for him.  We’ve got a pound and three pence. Would roses cost an awful lot, sir — yellow roses, I mean?”

The man smiled. “It just happens that I have some nice yellow roses here that I’m offering special today for a pound  a dozen.” The man pointed to the flower case.

”These would be great” said the boy, “ Yes, Mickey would really like those.”

The man said, “I’ll make up a nice spray with ferns and ribbons. Where do you want me to send them?”

One of the boys said, “Would it be all right if we took them with us? We’d kind of like to, you know, give them to Mickey ourselves. He’d like it better that way.”

The florist fixed the spray of flowers and accepted the pound and then watched the youngsters trudge out of the store. And within his heart he felt the warm glow of the presence of God.

Our Gospel lesson about Mary anointing Christ’s feet  is about such love and such extravagant giving from one’s heart.

It is also about an upcoming funeral, the funeral of Jesus.

Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem for the Passover and stops in Bethany to visit with his friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. It was six days before the Passover and therefore six days till the passion of Jesus starts.

Mary, Martha and of course Lazarus were well acquainted with Jesus as he had raised Lazarus from the dead. He stopped in for dinner, or supper and a brief visit while he continued his journey to Jerusalem.

Something quite unexpected happened at that gathering

Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment

This act of Mary’s was an act of love. An act of love toward Jesus because she sensed he was indeed someone who was truly special. And as the events unfold in the next days, we see this anointing was a fore shadowing of what was to come. Jesus was not anointed after His death, so this anointing was something planned ahead of time. Mary probably did not know it, but Jesus did.

Mary had to express her love for Jesus and this was the best way she could. Yes, it was extravagant, yes it was costly, but it was her expression of love for Jesus.

Are we extravagant with our love for Jesus? Or do we hold back? How do we express our love for Jesus? We can’t anoint Him as Mary did. But we can worship him and we can serve him by serving others.

A closing story –

It happened at a Scripture Union weekend.. One of the lads who was attending, a boy with spastic paralysis, was the object of heartless ridicule. When he would ask a question, the boys would deliberately answer in a halting, mimicking way.

One night the others chose him to lead the devotions before the entire gathering. It was one more effort to have some “fun” at his expense.

Unashamedly the boy with cerebral palsy stood up, and in his strained, slurred manner — each word coming with enormous effort — he said simply, “Jesus loves me — and I love Jesus!”

That was all. Many began to cry. From then on things were different for that group of youngsters …. that weekend …and beyond

Jesus is anointed by Mary Magdalene. XIX centu...

Jesus is anointed by Mary Magdalene. XIX century engraving (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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