What I’m Reading Today: Mark 14:1-31
Eleven years ago, I was in the process of culminating a long process of discernment. I was trying to decide whether to devote myself to a career in politics or a career in the ministry.
For a while it looked as though my career would be in politics. There was one primary reason why I thought that. It had to do with the impact I thought one could have in each area. I remember thinking to myself: “An elected official has the ability to help create public policy. Those policies impact tens of thousands of lives. I want my life to have that kind of impact!”
And my thinking about parish ministry?
“Well,” I remember thinking, “the work is important, but you work with such a small number of people by comparison. There’s no way my life could have the same sort of impact that it could in politics!”
I smile as I type that for a couple of reasons. First, I smile because of the way my ego was running rampant. I was trying to make my life all about me. Second, I smile because I sorely underestimated the kind of impact a person of faith can have on the world.
Take the woman who anointed Jesus’ head in today’s reading from Mark. Here was a humble person whose life had a tremendous impact. So much so that Jesus said of her, “And you can be sure that wherever in the whole world the Message is preached, what she just did is going to be talked about admiringly.”
“If what she did was so important, than why didn’t the story even bother to name her?” some have asked.
My years of parish ministry have helped me answer that question. You see some of the most transformative things I’ve been around aren’t things that have occurred in state legislatures of in the halls of Congress. Some of the most impactful things I’ve seen have been in much smaller and more intimate settings.
I think, for instance, of the dedicated university scholar who volunteers a tremendous amount of time on his weekends during the school year in order to help a talented group of teenagers create an amazing musical production. I think of the women in their 80’s who labor to pull off an annual fundraiser to benefit a home for troubled adolescent boys. I think of the woman who established an educational/environmental program to benefit the indigenous people of Peru.
None of these are individuals whose stories will make the front page of tomorrow's edition of the Los Angeles Times – yet each of their actions are making the world a better place to live. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to spend a little time with these heroes of mine each week at church.
The next time you begin to wonder what difference your life has made, remember the quiet little story about the woman who anointed Jesus’ head. Then appreciate those quiet little moments when your life has changed the life of another.
Til next time…