“They gave a dinner for him.” (John 12:2)

Doesn’t it seem odd that Jesus would start the final week of his earthly life by attending a dinner party? You might have expected him, with good reason, to have spent extra time in prayer and conversation with his Father, or in some other way strengthening himself for the ordeal ahead. But no, he had dinner with his friends. He received their gener­osity and love. And he loved them back by spending time with them, even at a time when more important things might have weighed heavily on him.

All the while, Judas had his eye out for the main chance—his oppor­tunity to skim more out of the money bag he held for Jesus and his friends. Jesus knew it, but he didn’t address it when Judas rebuked Mary. He was more focused on affirming Mary’s act of adoration than with calling out Judas’ greed. Evidently, Mary’s love was more significant than Judas’ selfishness.

Isn’t this amazing? Even as Jesus approached the hour of his death, his focus was on love: Loving oth­ers, receiving the love they offered him. Corrections, weaknesses—even sin—took a backseat to love.

Don’t forget about sin, but try to focus on love this holy week. Take Mary’s example, and be extravagant in how you express your love for God and for those around you. Spend the week sowing patience and recon­ciliation when you find yourself in situations that aggravate you. Show forbearance when sharp or cutting remarks rise in your thoughts during the day. Offer forgiveness—quietly, unseen, even unasked or unspoken. Think of an act of service or affir­mation you could do for someone. Maybe even host a dinner party for friends!

And of course, spend time with Jesus, pouring out on him that which is most precious to you. If you are a habitually busy person, offer him some one-on-one time. Whether it involves time or money, praise or service, think of a way to love extrav­agantly this week. Be creative as you consider how you can shift your focus, and ask the Holy Spirit to give you ideas that make the most sense for you. Above all, love others as deeply as you can, for love covers a multitude of sins.

“Jesus, thank you for loving me! Help me to love the people around me, just as you did.”

Isaiah 42:1-7; Psalm 27:1-3,13-14