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Speaking to the Soul: Cashing Out

Speaking to the Soul: Cashing Out

Proper 16, Year One

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]


Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 119:1-24 (morning) // 12, 13, 14 (evening)
1 Kings 3:1-15
Acts 27:9-26
Mark 14:1-11

In today’s gospel, a woman interrupts a dinner party to break open an alabaster jar and pour its costly contents on the head of Jesus. The jar held a precious “ointment of nard.” Jesus sees this gesture as pure service to his body, which is about to be treated cruelly. As Jesus says, “she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial.” But where Jesus sees generosity and foreshadowing, some of the people around him see only the cash value of what was wasted for Jesus’s sake.

The gospel reports that some people at dinner with Jesus complained to each other, asking angrily, “Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” But seeing only numbers is what truly impoverishes the gifts and gestures that are offered in love.

What in our own lives have we broken, dumped out, and wasted for the love of Jesus? The world holds plenty of temptations to exchange our gifts and goods for their cash value, and to use cash to plug holes in our gaping economy. But we will never realize our worth, nor will we fully repair economic injustices, if we don’t learn to be graciously wasteful in ways large and small, just like the anonymous woman with her alabaster jar.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with education, young adult ministry, and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.


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