Tuesday, September 1, 2020
“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.” - Matthew 26:6-7
When I was younger I had a deep love of antique pocket watches (I still do.) My grandfather had one that was given to a relative of mine as a gift on November 10, 1895 according to the engraving on the back case. That watch now sits in my living room under a little glass dome. Long ago it stopped working, and I’ve always imagined I’d get it repaired one day. That day has yet to come.
When the watch is ultimately fixed, though, it will be a moment when something that has been passed down through my family for over 100 years comes back to life. It will go from being a decoration to something active, something participating in the passage of time.
The woman that came to Jesus with the alabaster jar also came with an heirloom. Jars such as that are precious to their owners, and in order to use the costly ointment, it would have meant having to break the jar open. Like the pocket watch, it would go from being something decorative sitting on a shelf to something actively part of the activity of life.
Living our faith is like that. It is risky; maybe we would rather keep it safe on the shelf than break it open and use it. Isn’t it pretty enough just sitting there on the shelf? Yet look at the risks Jesus is taking just in these two verses. He’s at the home of a leper; an unclean outcast and outsider whose illness was brought about either by his own sins or those of his parents. He’s then anointed, touched by, a woman. Both of these actions were scandalous in his day. Yet, he didn’t leave his faith on a shelf to look pretty. He took it down, dared to break it open and use it.
We are called to do likewise. Let’s dare to break things open.
Loving Creator, grant us the courage not to leave the heirloom of our faith on the shelf gathering dust, but rather to take it down and put it into use in a world that desperately needs it.