Lent in Reverse (8th)



As we walk away from Jerusalem with the Disciples back to Galilee (where it all began and must begin again) I'm posting my Lenten devotionals in reverse.  Most of them.

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Bless Their Heart

John 12:1-11

"Bless their heart."  What a great southern phrase.  I've heard it a thousand times and even said it a few myself.  Eons ago I'm sure this statement was meant as sympathy for a predicament and stirred others to action.

Nowadays I hear it in a different context.  Today people seem to say it to write people off and resign their fate to God, thus, not really planning any course of action.  It is almost like saying, "Glad that's not me," or for my generation, "sucks to be you."

John 12 has a "bless their heart" moment and it is important to know the context.  John's Gospel is constantly lifting Jesus up as the sacrificial lamb that shows God's light in a world of darkness.  This chapter has a moment of foreshadowing to that light.  Jesus is about to die on a cross and be resurrected so Mary's gift, unbeknownst to her, is prepping Jesus for this journey.  Judas is then portrayed as a penny pinching thief who wants nothing more than to get his hands on more money.  After all, the Gospel points out, he'll betray Jesus later anyway.  He says, "Hey!  What about the poor?!"

Jesus' response is a divine, "Well bless their heart."

See what he did there?  He may actually be quoting Deuteronomy 15:11 and that Scripture is all about how being generous, openhanded, and compassionate is at the core of being God's chosen people.

But we never read his statement that way.  Generations of Christians have used Jesus' words right here to validate ignoring the poor, or at least choosing another option over ministering to them.  Jesus' point is, of course, that we should be caring for the poor!  Always!  Preparing for his death and resurrection may be special but it does not supersede ministering to the least of these.

We can say "Bless their heart," and do so, or we can say "Bless their heart," and turn a blind eye to the very people God wants us to see.

I hope today you'll find chances to say "Bless their heart," in the former sense and not the latter.

Prayer:
Gracious God, I am thankful for your amazing gifts.
May I be used for the purpose that I am intended.
May I love as Christ loved and never forget the poor.
Those amazing gifts can be gifts for others as well, through your strength.
Amen.