“While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Matthew 26: 6-13
Lent is a time when we are reminded to pray a little more, fast a few times, and give alms (perhaps a little more than usual). Praying and fasting are very valuable exercises for our soul in a form of active participation in Lenten spiritual growth - on an interior level. Almsgiving is more of an exterior Lenten practice in which we should also participate throughout the year. The poor you will always have with you. Isn’t that the truth? In the two thousand years since Christianity shaped the charitable world and inspired many social programs and philanthropic activities, the poor remain with us. We have soup kitchens, homeless shelters, orphanages, food banks, community aid, etc… and there is always more we can do.
Lent is also a time for going a little deeper - deeper in our prayer life, fasting in new ways, not just giving up chocolate, and taking almsgiving to a whole new level. Jesus told us that whatever we do for the least of his his brothers and sisters, we do for him. The woman who anointed Jesus with the perfume did so with the best she had to offer. When we give alms, we can consider giving Christ the best we have to offer. The poor can use the old clothes in our closet that we no longer want - but is this the best we have to offer? Perhaps we can buy new clothes for the poor. When we make donations of food, we can find something special to offer the hungry, not just sustenance. In our almsgiving this year during Lent, we might consider digging a little deeper, becoming more creative, and finding new ways to offer the poor the most “expensive perfume.”
In sending Jesus to humanity, God gave us the best He had to offer, let’s offer Him our best in return. What can we do this Lent to offer God something from an alabaster jar?