“…Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said, ‘Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?’ This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it. Jesus said, ‘Let her alone, let her keep it for the day of my burial. The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.’” (Jn 12: 3-8)

What Judas demonstrates here is not frugality, but stinginess. Frugality is an efficient use of money and other resources, based on spiritual health and wisdom, while stinginess is an expression of self-centered fear. It is an inappropriate, unhealthy tightening of the heart at moments when one is called to give. Just as Judas does above, a stingy person withholds him or herself in and from the here and now, self-isolating from the concrete people and situations in the present, while “saving” for some vague, “other” occasion or people. It pretends to protect us from vulnerability, but it is ultimately quite stressful and depressing.

Today let me be generously self-giving in my here and now, with and toward the people I “do not always have,” but whom I have today. Generosity has a way of relieving me of stress and various fears, re-connecting me with others and somehow filling me with gratitude for what I have. Lord, let me give today, that I might receive, in You and with You. Amen!


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