“As Jesus sat at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. But there were some who said to themselves indignantly, ‘Why was the ointment thus wasted? It might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.’ And they reproached her. But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.” Mark 14:3-6 (NRSV)
It is the beginning of Holy Week. The Gospel stories surrounding this week are filled with the potential for conflict. The tension is high. Anxiety is great. The disciples can feel it even if they can’t put their finger on it. In the story above, some of the guests lose their temper with the woman, reproaching her for what appears to be a waste. But Jesus doesn’t lose his temper. Not then, not at the Last Supper, not in Gethsemane, not at the Cross.
When we observe that someone has lost their temper, it usually means someone has exploded in anger over something. But the idea of temper goes back to the old days of metallurgy, combining metal and heat to forge a strong yet flexible product. Steel was considered the best tempered metal, strong and resilient. Iron was not, since it could be ‘bent out of shape”.
These days of immense social adjustment can easily lead us to a loss of temper; a loss of strength and flexibility. A loss of resiliency. Jesus didn’t lose his temper. I know I have often been on the verge of losing mine over circumstances and personalities I don’t understand. One way I manage my emotions is to take a walk (yes, observing social distance) and to make a mental gratitude list. I try to remember that suffering, whether great or small, is part of everyone’s experience. Even Jesus. Especially this week.
Stay safe, be well.
Rev. Dr. David Kaiser-Cross
This week we pray for the millions of Christians throughout the world who will not be gathering as they normally do this Holy Week, but will have to find new ways to share God’s love.
God of all creation and every creature, great and small; strengthen our inner spirits for the weeks ahead. Establish us in your love, that Christ may live through us in every dimension. In the fullness of your grace, make us useful servants, ever growing and learning the ways of Jesus. Amen.