A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.
where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served,
while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him.
Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil
made from genuine aromatic nard
and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair;
the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples,
and the one who would betray him, said,
“Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages
and given to the poor?”
He said this not because he cared about the poor
but because he was a thief and held the money bag
and used to steal the contributions.
So Jesus said, “Leave her alone.
Let her keep this for the day of my burial.
You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”
The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came,
not only because of him, but also to see Lazarus,
whom he had raised from the dead.
And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too,
because many of the Jews were turning away
and believing in Jesus because of him.
Good News Reflection:
On Jesus’ calendar when today’s Gospel passage took place, it’s one week before the most difficult day of his life. He knows what’s ahead; he’s been dropping not-so-subtle hints to his disciples. So how could he sit there so peacefully at the dinner party?
If we study the lives of saints who knew they were about to be martyred, we notice a trend. They all approached their deaths peacefully and — get this! — joyfully. How did they do that?
I believe it’s a special grace. The Holy Spirit gives martyrs a supernatural gift of joy to help them endure the pain. Jesus is a perfect example of this. Instead of worrying about Friday, he stayed in the present moment to enjoy his friends. These people were the Father’s arms embracing him, nourishing him, affirming him, and anointing him in a most profound gift of generous love.
Jesus also experienced the Father’s encouragement and compassion through the scriptures, which he knew very well. Read today’s first scripture and the responsorial Psalm the way Jesus would have used it for personal encouragement. See how the Father ministered to his Son in those words.
What sacrifice are you making that needs the Father’s affirmation? What have you given up that is near and dear to you, entrusting yourself to the concern of God? How are you making a difference in this world by offering yourself — your life — to God’s kingdom? The Father is very pleased with you and is encouraging you and comforting you.
Mary’s love for Jesus was so intense and so profound that she anointed the feet of Jesus in an awe-inspiring way. She sacrificed her pride to give this gift to Jesus despite the ridicule of others. She looked silly drying his feet with her hair (surely they had towels in the house!), but she didn’t mind. Some understood her love, others did not. So what? In her mind, her love for Jesus was all that mattered. And in return, he praised her.
Do we love Jesus that much? Consider the ways that you anoint others with the sacrifices you make and the gifts you offer. Whatever we do for others, we are doing it to Jesus. We can’t perfume his actual feet, but he does visit us every day in every person we meet. How is your love perfuming their lives?
To strengthen your ability to love, identify how, in the sacrifices you’ve been making, the Father has been giving you his affirmation and appreciation. Write it down as if the Father is giving you a personal letter of thanks.
In remembrance of his love for you, bless and anoint someone today with sacrificial love — passionate love — in order to give Jesus an intensely profound gift. Sometimes, without our knowing it, the person we bless is about to experience his or her own painful Friday.
Forgive me, Lord, for rejecting You so many times because of envy and greed. Purify my intentions. Make me docile and humble that I may receive You with joy through my brothers and sisters. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica