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There is a time to be simple, and there is a time to be extravagant.  And it is the latter that I want to talk about today.

It may surprise you that on this Simplicity Journey I am encouraging you to live extravagantly at times.

Let me share a brief story.

There once was a woman named Mary who lived in a small town where Jesus was passing through during the last week of his life.  He had gone there to eat dinner with a friend, and while he was waiting Mary sat on the floor and started to wash his feet, a hospitable thing to do in that day.  Except instead of just washing the dust off his feet, she got out expensive oil or perfume and poured it on.

One of Jesus’ close friends, who was an accountant, was furious because of the waste.  “Why was this perfume not sold for what is equal to three hundred days of wages and the money given to the poor?”  Not that he cared about the poor, but he did hate to see the money wasted.

Good question. I can see me asking such a question, how about you?  I mean, how much money do you make in ten months?  That’s expensive perfume.

“Leave her alone,” Jesus said in a clear tone.  “I won’t be here much longer with you, and Mary gets it.”  What Mary “got” was she understood what was about to happen and she was preparing him symbolically for his burial.

The love of money and stuff can steal the affections of our heart.  It can distract us from what is most important.  We can even used this passage to say the poor will always be with us so we don’t have to do anything.  But Richard Rohr rightly points out that the rest of this same quote can be found in Deuteronomy 15:11, “Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, ‘Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.’”

You see, we can learn how to save our money, we can even be debt free, and we can live with simplicity.  And we may still miss it and not “get it.”

For people of faith, living simply means knowing there is a reason when and where we can be extravagant.  When we understand what this Holy Week is all about, we get it.  And we will open our hands to the poor and needy in our land.

May God help us to recognize the joy that comes from simple extravagance.

Live simply and find a way to be extravagant.


What does this story mean to you?  Please share your thoughts below.

2 Responses to “Simple Extravagance — Day 35”

  1. Sherri Shepherd says:

    Hey Malcolm,
    Oh, I guess I jumped ahead the other day….just illustrates that nothing can be understood in isolation. Or as Paul Harvey said so eloquently, “stay tuned for the rest of the story”.

  2. Malcolm says:

    Hi Sherri, don’t worry about jumping ahead, just jump in and you’ll be fine!

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