She’s really done it. She’s poured out her whole life at the feet of Jesus with enough tears thrown in to water a community garden.

And she looks absolutely pathetic, a shameful tangle of hair, fragrant oil, tears, dirt, and makeup. It’s hard to breathe, the scent is so strong in the house. By now the perfume’s aroma will have punched its way into the raucous street. By now the host of the party is mortally humiliated because his house smells like a prostitute to everyone who passes by. She almost laughs as she imagines him trying to explain spectacle this to his neighbors.

Time to look up.

Her head is so heavy, so ashamed. But something or someone is helping her. Finally, her eyes are lifted just high enough to meet his. Jesus is still smiling, though now through tears of his own. A Pharisee opens his mouth to speak, but Jesus waves him off. With great emotion, Jesus speaks a few simple words she will not forget as long as she lives.

“She… has done a beautiful thing for me.” He places his hand on her head. A tender blessing. Her shoulders slump as she receives his grace. His forgiveness. His cleansing. His new start for her. His new identity for her. It’s glorious. And her mind goes numb again, struck nearly blank by the bliss of it all.

She does, however, catch bits and pieces of what he says next. He rebukes the religious bigots for not loving him like she does. He says something about treasuring her gift so much that he will make sure that her story is told again and again so that she will be venerated for the rest of time. She’s no longer “that prostitute.” She’s now “that woman who loved Jesus completely.”

Until time immemorial, Jesus is saying, in effect, “Pay attention if you are one of those people who want to love me, because this is how I want to be loved. Her gift was expensive. Her gift was affectionate. Her gift was surrender. Her gift was worship. And her gift was spontaneous. She didn’t read about this in a book. She simply gave me what came to mind, no matter what people thought of her for doing it. And I absolutely loved it.”

And true to Jesus’ promise, here we are, still telling her story more than two thousand years later. And hoping to write one of our own. Hmmm…. Jesus, help me to love you like that. Like she did.

Lots to learn.