The message of oil.

Todays scripture: Matthew 26:6 – 16

A big piece of the global economy concerns oil. We get rich if we have it on “our” (s)oil, we try to take it by force if we don’t. We start wars over it, our logistics and means of transportation is dependent on it. It is our greatest source of energy.

Today when we re-member (as in being inserted into the body once again) the anointing of Jesus at Bethany in the service of unction, a different use of oil is displayed. The woman anoints Jesus for the preparation of His burial.

And it seems like oil, (chrism, cream, creme) is always a part of when something or someone is going in the ground. From the earliest of days the people of the earth have tried to cover up the smell of the decaying body with fragrant oils. We have tried to preserve the body from decay with oil and ointments. This putting oil on the body for preserving and healing purposes  before it returns to the earth is rather fitting because oil is taken from the depths of the earth is it not?

Oil springs forth when we put pressure on the earth. Oil coms out when we squeeze the olive or the nut. Oil seems to be the burning fuel, or the essence of the fruits of the earth. The energy of the earth herself captured in liquid form. It is high concentrated energy and so we eat it, fueling our bodies and we burn it for the warmth of our homes. The cycle of oil is an interesting one. It is the liquid result of things that once where living…

Oil is not only mentioned in Matthew but is also being used to anoint the things that was set apart for worship in Exodus. It is used for the setting apart of the kings and priests in the old testament. It is used for the lampstand, to shed light. James write about the usage of oil for the ones who are sick. In a way oil becomes a great symbol for holiness (healing) and light, for regenerating life in things that has been dead or the ointment that reveals the spiritual significance in material things. Because who can speak about oil without mentioning the fire it produces.

Oil and fire are inseparable. Jesus gets His anointing so that the Fire will come. “I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled” (Luke 12:49). We must be baptized with both water (baptism, death and resurrection) and fire (from decay towards theosis). Think about it. Water and fire do not belong together but if you pour oil into the water the fire will burn on the water. Baptized in fire I say. Yes, immersed, dipped down in fire it means. What other material is better to describe this mystery than oil, you can be dipped down in it and yes it contains the energy of fire. Fire was what led the Israelites through the night of the desert. Fire came fourth from the burning bush. Fire is the mark of the sun spreading light and the inside of our earth. Fire is what God sent to answer Elijah’s prayer on mount Carmel. Tounges of fire is put forth at Pentecost. Fire gives warmth, energy and life. It is also the great process of transformation of material formula. It purifies unclean things and it consumes unseen things. It is not  coincidence that God reveals His Holy Spirit through fire. It is not chance that the preparation of the Holy Spirit (Fire) contains the ritual of ointment with oil. I mean, Who is it that Is Being poured out on and into the world for the healing of the world? It is Christ. It is His burial. He Is the One Who is going into the ground. The Holy Spirit is revealed as a result, bringing the baptism of fire regenerating life rather than ending it as in the days of Noah.

To this very day the woman is re-membered where the gospel is spread for what she did for Jesus. She is re-membered because she is recorded in the Scriptures but also, to no less degree, is she re-membered because the Church to this very day is repeating this sacrament, this mystery of unction. This liquid of “middle ground” between water and fire being poured out for the healing and life of the world.

In Christ,

Fr. Jakob    


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