Love, Poured Out

DSC00884I am yet another one of those unnamed women in Holy Scripture… Women who played significant parts in our holy stories… but not thought important enough to be named… You people get angry if your name is misspelled in your papers… imagine not being named at all… just ‘a woman…’ Some scholars have thought I was Mary of the Mary and Martha story…. Some have said I was a sinner… Well of course I was a sinner, but we are all sinners! Some have said that my name is not important… that my story is the important part… and to some extent they are right… But being un-named erases part of the essential nature of being human… And Jesus recognized and celebrated the humanity in each and every one of us…

But, I digress… Before I get to my part of the story… I want to tell you a bit about the first piece of scripture you heard today…. It is very important to me… Ezekiel’s vision… a valley of bones… When you first read that account you may feel discouraged… imagine a valley full of bones… not just a tossed one way and another… disconnected… dry… hollow… lifeless… Ezekiel’s vision came to him when our people were enslaved in Babylon… where we felt cut off from our God… split apart as one bone from another… We had been a people who thought God resided in the temple in Jerusalem and since we were exiled from our land, we thought we were exiled from God. Ezekiel’s vision told us that God could and would take those dry bones… those dry, lifeless, empty bones… and God would breathe new life into them… and we as a people would live… Our people told that story often as we suffered from oppression of one sort or another down through the centuries… We took courage from it… for God never deserted us… God never discarded us… God never abandoned us… This vision of Ezekiel’s, that was sent by God to encourage and comfort … a vision of being connected and enlivened… a vision of God’s breath entering us tired, depressed, enslaved people and we would rise up and live again!

Wow! Quite amazing when you think about it!

The breath of God, streaming through all of us… and we would live! You too can take comfort from the story… even if you never see a valley of dry bones… you all have dry bones times in your life… Times when you feel cut off from God and from all family and friends… you may not use say anything about dry bones… you may use words like feeling alienated or disconnected… but the thought is the same… you feel abandoned and forsaken from all that feeds your soul… But our scripture tells us that God NEVER abandons us… and it is only when we are empty that we can be filled! God breathes new life into us… pouring out God’s spirit into those dry lifeless bones… and so we in turn can pour ourselves in God’s service…

Which brings me to my part of the story… I understand that many of you sympathize with the disciples’ reaction to me pouring out some very costly ointment on Jesus… For the very same reasons that Matthew wrote about in his gospel… That the ointment could have been sold and used to feed the poor… And yes, yes… you are right… it could have been… But my Lord was tired and dusty… he had been working so hard… and just as he had touched so many of… touched not just heart and soul, but also body with healing…

I wanted to ease his tired body and offer it healing and respite… even if just for a little while… and one can only do that with hands… hands covered in oil… I don’t know if I had a premonition of his death… that ignoble, criminal’s death… and wanted to offer him the anointing of burial that would be denied to him… So, I brought the only thing of value I had… a jar of oil… to ease my friend Jesus… I understand that this passage and my actions have been used for some to be able to say that Jesus had no concern for the poor! Can you imagine??? Jesus, who fed 5000! Jesus who invited everybody to the banquet!

To understand this passage of scripture, you have to go to another passage from Matthew… in the chapter before the one that was read earlier… the 25th chapter…

Jesus is speaking, and he says… “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king, as Jesus is portrayed, will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

Everything we do to and for the hurting ones of the world, we do to and for Jesus…Without counting the cost, I poured oil on Jesus’ body… This world is Jesus’ body… this world needs the oil of reconciliation….this world needs our riches poured out in healing…

I said I was un-named… and I haven’t told you my name… and I am not going to… For that woman is you… and you… and you… When you feel empty… be filled with God’s breath… Be filled with God’s breath and pour out all your abundant resources on this world we live in… this world that is God’s body… Anoint it with the oil of healing….

And remember Jesus words, “Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

Blessings, on your continued ministry, blessings.

© Catherine MacDonald 2015

Ezekiel 37: 1-10, Matthew 26: 6-13

(Section on Ezekiel inspired by Joyce Rupp’s May I Have This Dance, available here.)

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