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.
As we enter Holy Week, with just a few short days until the Passion and death of Jesus, we read in John’s Gospel about how Jesus was spending these last days among His disciples, and with His friends, Martha, Mary and Lazarus…He was reclining at the table with Lazarus, while Martha busied herself with preparing the dinner and Mary sat close at His feet. Mary seems to be totally absorbed with Our Lord. She has nestled herself at His feet and has washed them with a very expensive oil, she then dried His feet with her hair…She is so taken with Jesus that she has humbled herself into the role of a servant…not caring what the others may think of her….not caring what the world thinks.… Her heart and her entire focus is on the Lord… and the overwhelming desire to love Him….She does not even care what the others may think of her…not even her sister…
From this Gospel reading, John is sharing a story that is found in the Bible a couple of other times, with slight variations in the telling. In this passage…the account seems to focus on the oil…the expensive nard oil that Mary has ‘wasted’ on Jesus’ feet. No one had seemed to notice what Mary was doing until the strong fragrance filled the air…then they rebuked her, particularly Judas…
Jesus tells them to leave her alone. He reminds them that He will be gone soon…He tells them; “For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.” He was not telling them that they should not help the poor….He was saying ‘I Am worthy of unselfish devotion.‘ He was affirming to His disciples…to us… that we should want to give Him our all…He was accepting the worship that Mary gave Him because she was able, through grace….to see Him as being worthy of all that she could give Him…after all...He was just days away from giving us His all…
Along these same lines of giving God our all…Do you know a family whose child has entered the religious life or is contemplating a religious vocation? I do, and sometimes it it quite striking to hear some of the comments that other parents make. “Oh, your daughter is so beautiful..it’s a shame she’s never going to get married…or…Oh, your son is so smart….I can’t believe you’re encouraging him to become a priest and throw it all away.” It’s shocking really. When you think about what these other parents are implying…that somehow giving one’s life to serve the Lord, is a bad thing…..It just proves how strong the world’s hold is over each of us…We still strive for material things, those outward signs of wealth and accomplishment…
We must pray that we will be more like Mary…and less like Judas...She was willing to sacrifice everything she had….her most valuable possession…the nard oil…and then, by assuming the role of servant….she sacrificed her pride and her reputation. She lay it all on the line and followed her heart….Instead of just thinking about doing something kind…. she allowed herself to be moved into action…she was ‘all in’….completely and 100% devoted to loving Christ and serving Him….are you?