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Thank You to an Anonymous Woman Who Loved Jesus – A Reflection by Walter Wangerin, Jr.

April 3, 2012

[Text: Mark 14:1-9]

Woman! What is your name that I might address my praise to you? I don’t know. Mark never says. I know nothing about you save this: that you anointed the head of my Lord.

Ah, but that’s enough to know! That deed alone is your identity, your entire being: your self. It memorializes you forever. “What she had done,” says Jesus, “will be told in memory of her.” Woman, now you are that deed, neither more nor less than that deed. I marvel at you. I pray God that I might do – and therefore be – the same.

For what was your gesture? An act of pure love for Jesus particularly. It was an act so completely focussed upon the Christ that not a dram of worldly benefit was gained thereby. Nothing could justify the spillage of some three hundred days’ wages, except love alone. The rulers who sought to kill Jesus were motivated by a certain reasonable logic; but your prodigality appears altogether unreasonable – except for reasons of love. The disciples, in fact, were offended by an act that produced nothing, accomplished nothing, fed no poor, served no need. They reproached you as a wastrel.

They were offended by the absurd, an act devoted absolutely to love, to love alone.

But Jesus called it “beautiful.”

And since the act is all there is of you, since humility has reduced you to this single thing alone and now you are no more nor less than your love for the Lord, you yourself are beautiful and rare and rich with meaning.

You are the beauty of faithful loving.

To those who do not truly love, you will ever be ephemeral or else an offense, either a shadow or an idiot. To me you are a model. You gave up all; you became nothing at all save love for the Lord; and exactly so you are remembered. Here, “wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world,” is love’s monument!

You, nameless, anonymous, lovely indeed: thank you.

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Jesus, I love you, I love you! Cleanse me of anything that is not love for you, even though the world will think me preposterous and my friends – some of whom are your disciples – will not be able to make sense of me. You are all the sense and meaning I need. I love you. Amen.

(These words come from a wonderful book by Walter Wangerin, Jr., entitled, Reliving the Passion: Meditations on the Suffering, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus as Recorded in Mark, pages 42, 43, and 44.)

4 Comments
  1. Dear Therese:

    Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you’re interested in this image. To me it depicts Mary of Bethany, having pondered what Jesus is about to do, and decided to respond by “anointing him for burial” with the perfume she is holding. This image is from a 2010 painting by Elspeth C. Young, whose biographical details you can access by clicking on this link: http://history.cfac.byu.edu/index.php/Elspeth_Young. I found it by doing a google image search for “Mary of Bethany.” Regarding copyright, the website for Al Young Studios will be able to give you guidance: http://alyoung.com/.

  2. Therese permalink

    Interested in the image of the Woman. Can I use it, is it copyrighted? How can I get permission to use it?

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