Friday, December 05, 2008

I have had the topic of the Church's misuse of money come up in several conversations, and often places like the Crystal Cathedral are brought up.

This is often countered by another person referencing the stories of the women/woman anointing Jesus's feet with oil (the disciples say that this could have been used to help the poor, but Jesus corrects them.)

Well first we need to look at these events in the context of Jesus life and message...

Jesus made social injustice a focus of his mission. Jesus came off his throne to enter this world physically and to be raised in a poor family.

His mother spoke of her “humble state” Luke 1:8

His parents temple offering for him was a poor person’s offering 2:24.

Jesus told his disciples to drop everything and follow him.

He had “nowhere to lay his head.” He and his disciples traveled about, engaged in loving and healing activity, while dependant on the hospitality of others.

In fact, Jesus’ first sermon emphasized “good news to the poor” Luke 4:18, his first beatitude begins, “Blessed are you who are poor” 6:20

And his first woe with, “Woe to you who are rich” 6:24.

Social justice issues center around the haves and have-nots. Those with money and resources tend to have power, and those without money and resources are left powerless. Economic inequalities lie at the root of most, if not all, social injustices. Given this reality, there is no wonder that one in seven verses in the Gospel of Luke address money or material things.

So in this context what does Jesus say but Jesus says...

Mat 26:10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 26:11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 26:12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.


Mar 14:7 The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. Mar 14:8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.

John gives the woman a name Mary ( of Mary and Martha fame).

And Luke adds a detail we may miss on the first pass. He says the woman lived a sinful life. And everyone knew it, so it was a public sin...

Tradition tells us that the woman was a prostitute.
And as such the perfume and or oil she poured out on Jesus was a tool of her trade. She is basically saying I recognize you as the liberating King, and I am repenting of my lifestyle.

And whats the reason Jesus says its better to pour it out rather than sell it?
"she did it to prepare me for burial. "

So I guess its ok to donate to the Crystal Cathedral if the money is given to prepair the building "for burial."

Bring on the wrecking ball.

Sorry this is a little sarcastic at the end. I believe the answer to this is rooted in the this commandment. I won't go in depth here but I offer an extensive explanation here:

Basically I offer a historically and cultural accurate reading of that commandment that leaves televangelists in trouble.

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