The anointing of Jesus at the house of Simon the Leper causes quite the stir in today’s Gospel. Scandalized by the cost of the oil used, onlookers ask why the money was not given to the poor. But Jesus responds, “She has done a good thing for me.”
How often am I like those “indignant” observers, quick to judge others’ actions, rather than see the good in them? How much easier it is to analyze what others have done than it is to look closely at our own actions. But Jesus sees the value in the woman’s choice and recognizes her act, done in anticipation of his death, as a work of Mercy. He proclaims it good.
Jesus’ words remind us that Mercy is not something that should be meted out in a purely logical manner. We must give mercy freely and live it deeply, however imperfectly.
There will always be more that we can do to grow closer to God. But the way to do that is not to try to criticize how others’ actions measure up, but to ask ourselves: How can we best serve God right now, where we are, as we are? “She has done what she could,” Jesus says of the woman. Let us all do all that we can.
Kerry Weber is the managing editor of America and the author of Mercy in the City: How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and Keep your Day Job.