From Luke’s Gospel:

While everyone was amazed at all that he was doing, he said to his disciples, “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.” But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was concealed from them, so that they could not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Luke 9:43-45 – October 20, 2012)

Olive OilI’ve been thinking about this little bit of Scripture all day! It’s nearly 10:30 p.m. – time for Compline! – and I’m still thinking about seven words from the morning gospel: “Let these words sink into your ears” . . . .

What a great image for coming to wisdom, to understanding, to appreciation for the thoughts of another! I have this vision of Christ’s words as if they were an oily ointment soaking into his listeners’ ears and then oozing into their brains, their consciences, their very being.

When I was a kid I was prone to ear aches. The home remedy for them was warmed olive oil poured into your ear! I would lie down on my bed (or more often on the sofa in my grandmother’s living room, a towel under my head to protect the upholstery of her davenport), and she would put several drops of warmed olive oil into my ear. At first (especially if it was a bit over-warm) it was startling, but then it would sooth away the awful stabbing pain of the ear ache. I can still remember the sense of relief, the noticeable absence of pain.

When I was five years old, just a few month before my father died in an automobile accident, my tonsils and adenoids were removed to prevent further ear aches, so this must surely be a very early memory.

Jesus’ words soaking into his disciples’ ears should be like that. “Let these words sink into your ears . . . . ” Let these words soothe away the pains of this world. Of course, in this case, his words themselves were painful. His disciples were going to lose their master. Still, the image of wisdom oozing into their consciences, into our consciences, like that warm olive oil on my grandmother’s davenport remains. “Let these words sink into your ears.” Let my wisdom soak into your being like warm olive oil.


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Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.