Justice, and the Oil of Belonging

by Christine Sine
Olive branch in focus in front of a mountain

By Laurie Klein

But we have this treasure in jars of clay
to show that this all-surpassing power
is from God and not from us.
2 Co. 4:7    

“My dear widow,” Elisha declared, “no creditor will dare enslave your sons” (my version). 

Imagine with me his gravelly chutzpah—classic Old Testament prophet. But her debts were massive. Did his tone soften, grow fatherly? 

“Tell me what you have,” he urged. 

Her watery gaze must have quavered before his piercing one, along with her hopes. “Sir, we’ve only a smear of oil left in the jar.” 

“Ask your neighbors for empty jars. And don’t be shy.” 

Do you picture beetling brows, a wrinkled cloak, a visible cloud of garlic breath? The prophet instructed her to hole up in her house with her boys. “Pour that trace of oil from your jar into each borrowed container. Don’t stop until all are full.”

That’s it. She can sell her miracle oil to pay off her husband’s debt, then retain the surplus to fund her family’s future. 

Oh, if we could read her mind in this moment, overhear her heart. Culturally doomed to poverty and potential slavery because training, opportunity, and wages were withheld from women, she must have gasped. Her welfare, and that of her sons, had been threatened. Now the little family was divinely endowed. 

I am awash in solidarity. But how might we name the miracle?

Let’s call it The Oil of Belonging.

  • As if we belong, by faith, to heartening precepts:
    so, we ask God, who pledges to answer.
  • As if we belong, by grace, to dynamic community:
    so, we lend, or fund—sometimes sacrificially—the needed resources.
  • As if we belong, by history, to a culture-in-motion:
    so, we increasingly challenge (dare I say lube?) the creaking gears of government.
  • As if we belong, by gift, to the faith tradition of signs and wonders:
    so, we reverently anticipate Spirit-led multiplication.
  • Lastly, as if we belong, by calling, to the shared struggle of fairness for all:
    so, we live as people of mercy.

As recipients of God’s onetime sacrifice offering us eternal hope and provision, we act in the name of the One who sustains all. 

So . . . am I, in fact, helpless to effect change?

What if my inmost capacities feel emptied, or woefully low?

“Tell me what you have,” God says. 

Despite this world’s unspeakable needs, the Oil of Belonging (newly bequeathed each time we ask!) carries power. Think of it as balm, ready to tame and soothe, heal and prevail.

Perhaps you’ve stroked on a carrier oil laced with an herbal scent. The benefits linger. Might I suggest doing this as a small but deliberate act of consecration? Smooth fragrant oil over your knuckles, wrists, fingertips. Then, take time to pray. You may find thoughtful anointing calms and refocuses body and soul, revitalizing your petitions for the poor, the hungry, the lost, the aggrieved and traumatized, the politically oppressed and dispossessed.

Poet/Theologian Paul J. Pastor writes:
“We must have faith that the soothing, the blessing,
is closer than the harm and will outlast it.
The truth, hard to wait for, and a perilous trail to walk,
is this: There is hope of answer, and redress.”
The Face of the Deep: Experiencing the Beautiful Mystery of Life with the Spirit

In welcoming the physical nurture of oil, gracing hands and heart, may we also absorb a trace of the peaceable kingdom. After all, the Oil of Belonging gentles anger. Eases fear. Will you join me in this fleeting touch emblematic of heaven? 

Let it soak in. Then ask for ways to make a practical difference.

Follow up: Make your own Aromatherapy Oil

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