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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, April 17, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | Matthew 26:6–13

Now while Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. But when the disciples saw it, they were angry and said, “Why this waste? For this ointment could have been sold for a large sum, and the money given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. By pouring this ointment on my body she has prepared me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.” (NRSV)

We don’t even know what her name was. Jesus was with her in Bethany in the home of Simon, who suffered from leprosy, just before Jesus was to endure his betrayal, trial, and crucifixion. She poured expensive oil over the head of Jesus, making the disciples angry. They could only see this generous act as a waste of precious money and failed to see the meaning of what it really represented.

When my wife, Kara, and I were first married we lived in New York City on very little income. I was a graduate student, and she taught fifth grade. We often ate very inexpensive meals, and our one weekly treat was to go to the corner deli, buy a pint of ice cream, and eat it together. We spent as little money on food as possible, but at every chance we could we purchased items that would make our new home more beautiful. We spent our little bit of money on what really mattered the most to us: making our home an inviting sanctuary of peace and beauty.

We all spend money and time on the things that matter most to us. The woman in Bethany spent a lot of money for the ointment she poured onto Jesus because she loved and admired Jesus. She loved him so extravagantly that she anointed him with all the ointment she had, the highest form of praise and adoration she could offer.

What really matters to you? Is it family, or God; is it working to create beauty, or social justice? What are you longing for? A closer relationship, a deeper spiritual life, a life that has meaning by making the world a better place? When we honestly answer these questions, we will know where to lavishly spend our money, where to spend our energy until we have no more energy left, where to completely lose ourselves in time. By doing this we will come to know our true selves and to know and love God.

Loving God, help me to give myself only to what matters most; help me to lose myself so I can find my true being; help me to sacrifice myself so I can find you. Amen.

Written by John W. W. Sherer, Organist and Director of Music

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