Why waist the ointment? (Mk 14:4-14:4)

“But some were there

Who said to one another

In anger.

‘Why was the ointment

Wasted

In this way?’”

 

ἦσαν δέ τινες ἀγανακτοῦντες πρὸς ἑαυτούς Εἰς τί ἡ ἀπώλεια αὕτη τοῦ μύρου γέγονεν;

 

This is similar to Matthew, chapter 26:8, and somewhat similar to John, chapter 12:4-6, where it was Judas Iscariot who complained about wasting money as John made more derogatory remarks about Judas.  Mark said that some unnamed angry, incensed, or indignant disciples (ἦσαν δέ τινες ἀγανακτοῦντες) said to one another (πρὸς ἑαυτούς) why was this precious oil ointment wasted this way (Εἰς τί ἡ ἀπώλεια αὕτη τοῦ μύρου γέγονεν)?  They considered this a waste of good precious oil.

The new fertile land (Ezek 36:34-36:36)

“The land

That was desolate

Shall be tilled.

Instead of being

The desolation

That it was

In the sight of all

Who passed by.

Now they will say.

‘This land

That was desolate

Has become

Like the garden of Eden.

The wasted towns,

The desolate towns,

The ruined towns,

Are now inhabited.

They are fortified.’

‘Then the nations

That are left

All around you

Shall know

That I,

Yahweh,

Have rebuilt

The ruined places.

I have replanted

That which was desolate.

I,

Yahweh,

Have spoken.

I will do it.’”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, said that the desolate land would be tilled. Everyone passing by would notice the difference. The former desolation would be gone. Now they will say that this land is like the Garden of Eden, as in Genesis, chapter 3. All those wasted, desolate, and ruined Israelite towns would be inhabited and fortified. All the nations and countries around Israel would know that Yahweh had rebuilt and replanted these various ruined and desolate places. What Yahweh had spoken about, he would actually do.

The desolate land of Jeremiah’s vision (Jer 4:23-4:26)

“I looked on the earth.

O!

It was waste and void.

I looked to the heavens.

They had no light.

I looked on the mountains.

O!

They were quaking.

All the hills moved to and fro.

I looked!

O!

There was no one at all.

All the birds of the air had fled.

I looked!

O!

The fruitful land was a desert.

All its cities were laid in ruins.

Before Yahweh!

Before his fierce anger!”

This lamenting vision or view of Jeremiah points out a ruined land that was wasted and empty. He looked to the heavens and there was no light. He saw that the mountains and hills were shaking back and forth. There was no one on earth. Even the birds were fleeing. The beautiful fruitful land was now a desert with the cities in ruin. All this happened because of the fierce anger of Yahweh.

The reluctant returning children to an overcrowded land (Isa 49:19-49:21)

“Surely your waste land

Will now be too crowded

For your inhabitants.

Your desolate places

Will surely now be too crowded

For your inhabitants.

Your devastated land

Will surely now be too crowded

For your inhabitants.

Those who swallowed you up

Will be far away.

The children born

In the time of your bereavement

Will yet say in your hearing?

‘The place is too crowded for me.

Make room for me to settle.’

Then you will say in your heart.

‘Who has borne me these?

I was bereaved.

I was barren.

I was exiled.

I was put away.

So who has reared these?

I was left all alone.

Where then have these come from?’”

Second Isaiah raises the question about overcrowding if all the exiles returned. There would be a special problem for those born in exile that had never lived in Israel. Why would they want to return there? The land was wasted, desolate, and devastated, why would anyone want to live in overcrowded conditions there? Their captives were gone. However, what would entice those who had spent their entire life elsewhere to move to a place that they had never known. There was nothing there to attract them. In fact, the mothers were upset at their children. They had spent their life bereaved, barren, alone, and exiled in a far away land. Who had reared these kids? Where did they come from? Why didn’t they want to go back to Israel? Was the influence of this new country too much for their own children?

The eternal fire in Edom (Isa 34:8-34:10)

“Yahweh has a day of vengeance.

He has a year of vindication

For Zion’s cause.

The streams of Edom

Shall be turned into pitch.

Her soil turned into sulfur.

Her land shall become a burning pitch.

Night and day,

It shall not be quenched.

Its smoke shall go up forever.

From generation to generation,

It shall lie waste.

No one shall pass through it forever and ever.”

Isaiah says that Yahweh will have his day of vengeance and a year of vindication for Mount Zion. The water streams of Edom will be turned into oily pitch, while the land will become like sulfur. Thus the whole land will become a burning pitch of fire and brimstone. Both day and night, forever, this fire with its smoke will not go out. For generations to come, this land will lay wasted so that no one will ever pass by there again. Its sounds like some kind of deserted smoking volcano, suffering the same fate as Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis, chapter 19.

The miser (Sir 14:3-14:10)

Riches are inappropriate

For a small minded person.

What use is wealth to a miser?

What he denies himself,

He collects for others.

Others will live in luxury on his goods.

If one is mean to oneself,

To whom will one be generous?

He will not enjoy his own riches.

No one is worse

Than one who is grudging to himself.

This is the punishment for their meanness.

If ever they do good,

It is my mistake.

In the end,

They reveal their meanness.

The miser is an evil person.

They turn away.

They disregard people.

The eye of the greedy person

Is not satisfied with their share.

Greedy injustice withers the soul.

A miser begrudges bread.

Thus it is lacking at his table.”

Sirach reminds us of the miser or the stingy greedy person. Wealth is wasted on these people. These misers deny themselves the pleasure of their own wealth. In fact, others live in luxury on the goods that they collected. If you are mean to yourself, how will you be generous to others. You should enjoy your own riches. The misers are punished for their meanness by themselves and their begrudging ways. If misers ever do anything good, it is by mistake, because they are evil people. They turn away and disregard other people. These greedy people are never satisfied with their share. They never share their bread with anyone.

Be careful who you eat with (Prov 23:6-23:8)

“Do not eat the bread of the stingy.

Do not desire their delicacies.

They are like

A hair in the throat.

They say to you.

‘Eat and drink!’

But they do not mean it.

You will vomit up

The little that you have eaten.

You will waste your pleasant words.”

Be careful who you eat with. Don’t eat the bread of the stingy. Once again there is the admonition to stay away from delicacies. They might get stuck in your throat like a hair. If they tell you to eat and drink, do not do it. They really do not mean it. You will vomit up what little you have eaten. Besides that, you will have wasted your pleasant words.