A NEW TESTAMENT story in Luke's Gospel tells of a woman entering the home of Simon, a Pharisee, where Christ Jesus was dining as a guest. This woman was known by many as a sinner, but she knelt at Jesus' feet and washed them with tears and then anointed his feet with oil. Jesus was touched by the woman's deed, and publicly approved it. Was it the woman's use of the costly oil that impressed Jesus? Of course not. But her humility and sincere repentance were apparent to Jesus even while the others in the room were condemning her actions. To Simon and the others Jesus said, ``Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much'' (7:47). And to the woman herself, Jesus said directly, ``Thy sins are forgiven'' (verse 48). This woman, who is now referred to as Mary Magdalene, was healed of her sinful ways and became a devoted, consecrated follower of Jesus.
In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, explains oil as: ``Consecration; charity; gentleness; prayer; heavenly inspiration'' (p. 592). The repentance of Mary Magdalene showed that she exemplified these high qualities. And as we learn to express them ourselves, we will find them to be beautiful, friction-dissolving oils that bring repentance and renewal to our lives.
When we have a squeaky wheel or door, we know that the squeak will disappear if a few drops of oil are applied to the area. And so in our daily lives, when a situation becomes noisy with irritations, inharmony, and differences in personal opinion, diligently putting into practice the qualities of this spiritual oil will silence discords and bring peace and harmony to our experience.
Mrs. Eddy's description of oil provided healing ideas for me at a time when all human means to resolve a conflict had failed. I was a first-year teacher, trying to maintain a harmonious and productive classroom schedule with a large group of ninth graders. There was a young girl in one class who had a history of drug abuse that intensified her apparently overwhelming personal problems. She was failing in her work, and her unruly behavior was causing general chaos in the class. Yet my heart went out to her, even as I struggled to provide a calm classroom for the other students. I prayed daily for harmony.
Whenever this girl would have an outburst in class, instead of reacting, I would silently declare that she was God's child, and as such, she could express only her inherited, Godlike qualities of goodness, purity, and love. I prayed for ``heavenly inspiration'' to help me love her spiritual selfhood, and that of each pupil in the class. And most of all I prayed to express Christian gentleness and kindness. I endeavored at all times to perceive the power of Christ, Truth, in my classroom, dissolving friction and revealing the true, spiritual creation of God. Throughout the experience, I was convinced that prayer would bring about a complete healing.
Soon the healing came: One day the girl's mother stormed into my room, angry at what she perceived as the school's lack of understanding for her daughter. As we talked, however, the tone of the interview changed completely. Cooperation was established. The girl made up her work after school, and her unruly behavior in my class ceased. We found a common ground of mutual respect, and she passed the course.
The lubricating oil of heavenly inspiration, charity, and gentleness had brought about this beautiful renewal and healing. It was proof to me that discord can be stilled when the prayer of Christly love and affection penetrates and destroys the friction-causing elements of any discordant human situation.
The oil of ``consecration; charity; gentleness; prayer; heavenly inspiration'' can bring harmony and peace to every human situation that needs the squeak of discord taken out of it.