I checked in with Holly the Witch about the homeless lady who had been sleeping in the Neighborhood Trolley.
Holly says she’s doing much better: she found a place to stay, with a friend. The apartment isn’t luxurious and her friend is the only one whose name is on the lease; she could be kicked out at any time. But the friend says she can stay for a few months, in exchange for a refrigerator or a minifridge, which they don’t have in the kitchen. She also could use a bed and a mattress. But she is indoors, and she’s using drugs less, and she’s trying to get a ride to the courthouse another town over to get her divorce papers so she can get an ID and get on assistance. The lack of a ride to get paperwork so she could get on assistance was the main reason she ended up on the street in the first place. She is thankful for your prayers.
Holly is also in touch with another homeless person, an artist and a writer who’s been in a homeless shelter for a year. He’s eager to get a job but he’s got a bad ankle. She is trying to get him a place to stay for a month or two, so that he can write an address other than a homeless shelter on a job application and hopefully get an income, to pull himself out.
There is also a nineteen-year-old homeless person who fled a bad family situation, and is hoping for a basement or a sublet somewhere on the south side of Columbus so they won’t be outside for the winter.
We’re doing what we can to help. Besides asking around for cheap rooms and a refrigerator, Holly is having someone put together a blessing box for her front yard, to distribute blankets, snacks and supplies to her neighbors.
Meanwhile, one of the homeless people brought her a present. This person has next to nothing, but they swapped something or other to another homeless person to get two discount-sized bottles of bubble bath, as a “thank you” gift.
Holly didn’t even know what to think.
I told her it made me think of Mary Magdalene.
She asked to be reminded of the Gospel passage. I told her about the woman at Bethany breaking open the jar of pure spikenard and pouring it all over Jesus’s head, to the consternation of the apostles. And then my favorite Bible verse of all time: “But Jesus said: leave her alone. Why are you bothering her?” He told His apostles that what she did would be remembered every time his story was told forevermore.
Of course, maybe the woman wasn’t actually Saint Mary Magdalene; Mary gets rolled together with every affectionate or repentant woman following Jesus. But some woman did it.
Some woman poured perfume on Jesus all four Gospels, in one way or another. In Matthew it’s the same as in Mark, an unnamed woman who either breaks or opens a jar of expensive stuff and gets snarled at for it, and then Jesus rebukes her detractors. In Luke it’s a “sinful woman” with an alabaster jar who pours perfume all over His feet, and then cries in repentance. In John it’s Lazarus’s sister, also called Mary, opening the jar to pour on Him and stinking up the room. The details are different, but in every single Gospel there’s an enthusiastic woman covering Jesus in expensive scented oil.
I’ve been told that the events that are reported in all four Gospels are the most important. There are a handful of such events. You have something about John the Baptist, you have the feeding of the multitude with a small bit of bread, Peter calling Jesus the Christ, the Triumphal Entry, the Last Supper, Gethsemane, the Passion and the Resurrection. And among all those deeply important things, you also have an enthusiastic woman with a jar of perfume. To me, that means the jar of perfume is pivotal. It’s a lesson we mustn’t overlook.
Maybe it’s meant to teach us how we are to treat each other.
Maybe God expects us to be lavish. We’re not just supposed to be businesslike and practical when we share with one another. We’re supposed to be so overwhelmed with affection and gratitude that we go overboard.
Suppose that that homeless person going overboard to get Holly some bubble bath is following the Gospel to the letter and putting the rest of us to shame.
Suppose that we ought to take that example and be equally lavish back at our neighbors– our housed and homeless neighbors, and everyone we meet, all the time.
Imagine how the world would be different, if that’s what we all did for one another.
Let’s try doing that and see what happens.
image via Pixabay
Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross, The Sorrows and Joys of Mary, and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.