Support the Café

Search our Site

The Right Thing

The Right Thing

Matthew 26:1-16

The woman opens a costly jar of oil and pours it over Jesus’ head. The rich perfume of the burial tomb fills the house, ruining everyone’s appetite. What is this wanton waste, this melodramatic display? Surely the Rabbi will be angry with her.

Instead Jesus praises her for her generous gift, confusing his disciples and making them angry. His followers have, up until now, put their own needs below those of their impoverished neighbors, giving away everything, keeping nothing back. Now, suddenly, the Rabbi commends a woman who squanders a huge chunk of her resources on a defeatist symbolic gesture.

It is a story about levels of understanding. Usually the disciples see, as I do, the landscape of ordinary reality. This viewpoint limits us to judging things in terms of our behaviors and categorically declares that some acts are good and others are not so great. From this perspective we might ask, “Giving to the poor, now – isn’t that always the right thing to do? Doesn’t it trump most other activities we could engage in?”

The woman who anoints Jesus does so because she has really, deeply, heard and responded to what he is trying to say to his followers. She has seen the future, and she accepts it. Her enacting this anointing is her affirmation of her Master as he engages his destiny. It is a gift of understanding and compassion.

617px-Italian_-_Dish_with_Mary_Magdalene_-_Walters_481319.jpgDoing the right thing is never really the issue. Our behaviors by themselves do not bring us closer to or lead us further away from the kingdom of heaven. The realm of God’s rule is not a set of actions. Instead it is a point of view. What matters is the outlook that comes from that place within us where our ordinary conscious perspective has been swallowed up in God’s. Then we see meanings that would otherwise be hidden, and everything we do reflects a deeper sensibility and purpose.

God, take me beyond my limitations of thinking and experience and make me an instrument of your unfathomable compassion. Amen.

Laurie Gudim is a religious iconographer and liturgical artist, a writer and lay preacher living in Fort Collins, CO. See her work online at Everyday Mysteries.


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café