Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Alabastar box of very precious ointment Matthew 26:7-8

Thriftiness is often good.  It's even emotionally satisfying.  There's something very gratifying about having made do with less, or creating something good with little financial outlay, or finding a great deal, or wearing a piece of clothing you like and that you found for a song at a second hand shop.  But it is not always what is best.  Sometimes spending more is worthwhile.  Which thing I had not thought about much

"Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon, the leper, There came unto Him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on His head, as He was eating {at food {meat}}. But when His disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it, He said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? For she hath wrought a good work upon MeFor ye have the poor always with you; but Me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on My body, she did it for My burial. Verily I say unto you, Wherever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her."

This verse has often given me pause, because I recognize myself  in the disciples' response.  This time through I looked at the situation more closely.

The scenario:

Jesus knows he will be betrayed and crucified.  His disciples have been told, but they desperately hope it is not true, except for one who has decided to act treacherously anyway.  He is living with what he knows is imminent and, rather than seeking reassurance or empathy or emotional support from others, he spends that time giving of himself; washing feet, offering the first sacrament, teaching what they will need to know to be able to carry on without him.  They see him as their teacher and Savior. They are in the student and follower mode.  They are receiver mode.  They see what he does for them and respect and love him for it, they try to be good stewards, but they do not minister to him in return.

But she does.  

She does not do so thriftily, counting the cost and trying to spend as little as possible, but she kindly and abundantly gives as she ministers to him.

Amidst all of the difficult anticipation of what was coming and the giving of himself that he was doing in spite of that, what a solace that gift of ministry may well have been to him.

What I learn:  That thrift is a good practice, but it is not always the best virtue. It is not an independent measure of our rightness. We must also be freely willing to give and spend according to and beyond what is thrifty when it is good to do so.  "Good measure, pressed downshaken together and running over" is the way Christ describes some of the giving from our Father in Heaven.  (Luke 6:38)  We must learn to feel free to do that kind of giving as well when it is needed and we have the means.

The disciples' response is indignation.  "To what purpose is this waste?  For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor." 

Thrift is good.  Giving to the poor is good.  But they are not to be used as an excuse for scrimping on ministering when it is needed here and now and I am not to judge or find fault with others who feel called to spend abundantly as they minister.

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