Why was the ointment wasted in this way? Mark 14:1-11 While in the house of Simon the leper, a woman with an alabaster jar of costly ointment pours it on the head of Jesus. Some thought she was being wasteful and should have sold the ointment and gave the money to the poor. Jesus’ response to their misguided compassion at first seems selfish. Yet Christ is of course perfectly right. We always have the poor. Why do we wait for a windfall of funds? We can and should already be giving to the poor because money isn’t the only thing they need. Of the times when we are poor in spirit, only one act of giving is necessary. Like the woman and the alabaster jar we pour out the treasure that is our heart to God, the one act of worship that is never wasted.
“…she out of her poverty has put in everything she had.” Mark12:35-44 This passage is often used for stewardship campaigns. It is equally, if not more so about faith. While teaching in the temple, Jesus warns against those who “devour the widow’s houses and for the sake of appearance, say long prayers.” Knowing this, why would anyone put anything in the treasury let alone 100% of all that they have, if not for their faith by the grace of God? Additionally, why would the widow give 100% of all she had when the law only required a 10th? It seems this act of faith isn’t about money at all but rather about trusting enough to give 100% of our life over to God.
Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? Luke 11:37-52 As a child I remember Halloween as a fun night. Growing up in a small town it wasn’t unusual to be out late but on Halloween we actually had something to do; walk the entire town and get as much candy as possible. Needless to say we had a lot of candy, some of which never got eaten. It never dawned on me then that how much candy we ended up with was determined by two factors; the number of doorbells we rang and how the host distributed the goods. Some people held out a big bucket of candy and allowed us to take what we wanted. This gave us the opportunity to pick and choose. Others would keep the bucket close and rationed out the pieces. Hopefully we got something we liked to eat. Today I wonder what determines whether we allow the trick or treaters to take what they want or whether we control what they receive? No doubt, if we allow trick treaters to take what they want some will take far more than what they need and perhaps the host will run out before the night is over. If however the host chooses to ration the goods she may end up with far more candy left over than she intended to have. What I do understand is that as the receiver, giving should not be taken advantage of and as the giver; giving isn’t so much about who controls the output of goods. Having been in both positions, what’s more important is the experience within me during the exchange.
So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you.‘But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practised, without neglecting the others. Luke 11:37-52