A Friend After 50 Years

A record of one journey into a peculiar type of Quaker Christianity, and a bit of silliness to boot.

Location: Arkansas

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Expensive perfume

Here's my comment on yesterday's passage at Friendly Skripture Study, Mark 14.3-11, in which a woman pours some very expensive perfume or oil on Jesus's head and is criticized by his followers for wasting expensive oil that could be sold for money that could be given to the poor. Jesus comes to her defense, upbraiding his followers for their critcism.

I get a sense of Jesus perhaps warning his followers not to get too hung up on only one aspect of his teaching. That its important to help the poor does not mean there can never be some "extravagance" for example. One might take this as a lesson not to go too far overboard on one aspect of spiritual life to the neglect of others. We often seek a sense of security in spiritual things, "Eureka! I've got it!" A good spiritual teacher might often find him or herself saying to such aspirants, "Eureka, you don't!" In that sense, Margaret Fell's declaration that a proscription against wearing red was "a silly, poor gospel" could be related. Another possibility is the suggestion that, far from being an extravagance, he was about to die and "deserved" some TLC beforehand, or at least, that this was an appropriate act given the circumstances. Or perhaps Jesus simply saw in the woman a generous, unselfish and compassionate spirit, which, in greater supply would redound to everyone's benefit, the poor included.


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