There is a story in Mark’s gospel (Chapter 14) about a woman who brings an expensive jar of perfume to the house of Simon the Leper, where Jesus is having dinner with his friends. The woman anoints Jesus with the perfume, an act which is later seen as anointing him for his burial. At the time, the disciples were upset, asking Jesus why he let this woman “waste” this expensive perfume when the money could have been used to feed the poor. Jesus responds “She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you will, you can do good to them; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could.”
Dr. Mitzi Minor, a professor at Memphis Theological Seminary, taught a Sunday school lesson about this passage last week. She emphasized the fact that the woman understood the suffering Jesus was going through and knew what was going to happen to Him, even though none of His friends seemed to get the idea. She did something for Jesus that was an act of kindness and did not ask Him for anything in return, in contrast to the other people surrounding Him. The woman could not stop what was going to happen to Jesus; she could not prevent His suffering, she couldn’t fix the problem with the Romans or with the Jewish high priests. But she offered comfort to Jesus and He was no longer alone.
This struck me as an insight into our mission work in Haiti, and for that matter anytime we offer comfort to someone who is suffering. We may not be able to fix the bigger problems, or to stop something terrible from happening. But we can give what we have; the love and support we can offer to another human being is sometimes all we have but it is our greatest gift. All God asks of us is to give the tiny gift we have, and He will bless it and make it into something wonderful.