Hello I do appreciate what you have accomplished with this site. I read your column everyday. I was looking at Christ’s sermons in Matthew and in 3rd Nephi. My question is…where it says but thou when thou fastest anoint thy head and wash thy face. How should we anoint? Thanks.
This is an area where some interpretation is needed. Let’s look at when Christ gave the same admonition during his ministry in Jerusalem.
16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
As far as I can tell, this is word-for-word what Christ told the Nephites. The point Christ was making is that our faith and acts of faith are best performed in private, between God and ourselves alone. When we seek to publicize our acts of faith, we are doing so for the approval of our fellow man. Of that, Christ says “I say unto you, they have their reward.” Notice he says the very same thing about performing alms, and prayer as well.
So, when Christ says ‘anoint thy head and wash thy face’ he is saying ‘behave normally, act normally, as though nothing is different.’ Keep your interactions with God between the two of you, and God will then reward you openly.
As to what the ‘anoint thy head’ means literally, well, let me explain it like this…deoderant and bathing weren’t common in those days, so to mask the natural odors of such a condition, people would put scented oils on their heads. this served to mask other odors coming to the individual as well as mask some of the odor the individual was making as well.