Text: John 12: 1-8
What is the greatest gift you’ve ever received? It doesn’t have to be fancy, expensive or even visible, but something memorable and touching that made a long-lasting impact on you. Perhaps the greatest gift you’ve received is your loving parent(s) or the place you grew up (especially if you were born and raised on a farm). It can be your own family or the faith you have. Whatever it may be, it speaks about who you are and what you value. You want to give back in gratitude. That’s the way it is.
For me, it’s the places I’ve lived in. Having moved many times, I’ve learned how each place offers a unique gift. It shapes the people in it, as much it is shaped by the people. The relationship between a place and its people can be as intimate and complicated as any human relationship. Just think about the land of this province, how it affects our lifestyles, and how we adapt and change according to its climate, soil and other elements. There are gifts only this land can give to us that no other places in the world can. I receive them every day. How can I keep from singing? I have a yearning to give back what I’ve received.
Gratitude is our most natural response to the gift we receive. It is true that we can’t make people generous. But we can invite them to name what gifts they received. Almost all the generous people I know tell me how blessed they have been, so they want to return what they received.
The most grateful person in today’s gospel story is Mary. The greatest gift she’s ever received is Jesus, the love embodied, the healer, who made God’s dream visible and tangible. She wanted the gift to be known and shared by more. That’s the nature of a gift. It is meant to be passed around. A true gift travels, always reaching further and wider than we can imagine. Mary recognized the gift from God, lifted it up, and blessed it as best she could. The gift was so precious to her that she could let go of everything else, even if it meant breaking the social norms, and encountering judgements.
What would be the greatest gift you could ever give in return for the gift you received? What would be the greatest gift we as a church could give to the community and the world? Just like Mary and Jesus’ days, there is a sense of urgency because our world hungers for true gifts. Almost all the churches I know say, their resources are getting smaller. But I wonder if we don’t tell the truth. The truth is that we don’t recognize our greatest gift, and therefore we don’t share it. There is nothing to fear. The abundant love we received is meant to be shared. That’s the way it is.