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Extravagant Thanksgiving


The Gospel lectionary reading for today is from Luke 7:36-50....

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, 'If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.' Jesus spoke up and said to him, 'Simon, I have something to say to you.' 'Teacher,' he replied, 'speak.' 'A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?' Simon answered, 'I suppose the one for whom he cancelled the greater debt.' And Jesus said to him, 'You have judged rightly.' Then turning towards the woman, he said to Simon, 'Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.' Then he said to her, 'Your sins are forgiven.' But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, 'Who is this who even forgives sins?' And he said to the woman, 'Your faith has saved you; go in peace.'
How can we say thanks to Jesus for the things he has done for us?

This woman brought an alabaster jar of perfume, broke it and poured the contents on Jesus' feet as a love offering--an extravagant gift of thanksgiving. This little vial of concentrated perfume was worn around the neck by all Jewish women and it was very expensive. This woman wanted to pour this perfume on Jesus' feet because it was all she had to give him. Obviously, Jesus had touched her life and her heart. Perhaps, in Jesus, she had seen, for the first time, a man who really loved her for herself, not for her body. In Jesus, she saw a person who could forgive her and give her a new start in life. Therefore, she wanted to give to Jesus the most precious gift she had, out of the gratitude that flowed from her heart.

I wonder: what gift do we have to pour at Jesus' feet? I believe he wants the gift of each of our lives. He wants all of us, not just part. He wants us to break the bottle of our life and pour out the contents at his feet. Will we do that for him? Will we do that for the one who gave his life for us on the cross? Is it too much to ask?

C. S. Lewis once wrote:

Christ says 'Give me All. I don't want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don't want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don't want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked--the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself; my own will shall become yours. 

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