Friday, February 15, 2013

Andrew Lloyd Webber's Translation

Woman your fine ointment, brand new and expensive 
Should have been saved for the poor. 
Why has it been wasted? We could have raised maybe Three hundred silver pieces or more. People who are hungry, people who are starving They matter more than your feet and hair!

Try not to get worried, try not to turn on to Problems that upset you, oh. Don't you knowEverything's alright, yes, everything's alright, yes.

Surely you're not saying we have the resources To save the poor from their lot? There will be poor always, pathetically struggling. Look at the good things you've got.

--Matthew 26: 7-11 (Andrew Lloyd Webber Translation)

I like Webber's translation of this verse not only because it's in 5/4 time which gives it a wacky swing, but also because of Jesus' line "pathetically struggling."
I. LOVE. this. verse.

I love these verses because they humanize Jesus.  I was involved in a bible study once that I often steal, in which we simply discussed which name of God with which we are most comfortable.  Are you a "God" person, a "Jesus" person, or a "Spirit" person.  And then, the study continues, what does that say about your experience of divinity.

I am NOT a Jesus person.  I don't often use his name in worship or in study or in prayer.  To be honest, invoking the name of Jesus gives me the willies.  I get God (as much as we finite beings can) and I get the idea of the Spirit.  The infinite is greater than I, more mysterious and transcendent than I.  I get that.  But Jesus was a human.  Fully human, according to the church of 300AD.  I am uncomfortable with a human being so divine, so flawless.  We are supposed to be flawed.  Maybe it's my post-post-modern, twenty-first century, white male guilt, but we are supposed to be flawed.  I understand flaws in people.  I forgive myself and my neighbors for our flaws perpetually.  We are supposed to be flawed.  So how am I supposed to understand Jesus?

I like this verse.  I get this verse.
Jesus is being selfish, and I love him for it.  Mary spends around 300 denarii, the wages of a well compensated laborer for a whole year - let's adjust to around $15,000, just to get a level - on a single jar of perfume, and she dumps it on Jesus.  Judas makes a perfectly valid point - "We could have fed a lot of hungry people with that money!"  Jesus - human, scared, vulnerable, about to (literally or figuratively) go through hell - tells Judas to let Mary be.  He, for ten beautiful minutes, allows himself to be anointed and washed and pampered by a woman or a friend or both.
Let somebody say 'amen.'
And, lest we forget, Judas was right.  Judas hit the nail on the head, identifying one of the foremost points of the new testament.  But Jesus needed to feel human, if only for a little while.

I can get a man who was almost perfect - a man who had the Christ, the spirit, the essence of God, descend into him with great force when he rose out of a baptism.  I can get that man because I see a little piece of that Christ in you. in me. in my wife. in my kids. and in you.  I see a Jesus who was not THE Christ, but had a greater portion of The Christ in him.  And as such he was divine, but as such he was also human, and occasionally selfish, and occasionally made mistakes (Matthew 15:26.)  I see a man who was selfish and occasionally made mistakes, but then apologized from them, learned from them (Matthew 15:28) and went on to do the right thing, the necessary thing - no matter how selfish and no matter how much he begged not to.

Not my will...

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