Photo: Felix Carroll
Place Jesus First
March 17 Monday of Holy Week
Readings: Is 42:1-7; Jn 12:1-11
So Jesus said, "Leave [Mary] alone. Let her keep this for the day of My burial." Jn 12:7
In our society, there is a fear of death. Rarely do we talk much about it until a loved one dies. Even at wakes and funerals, we tend to find it hard to express ourselves beyond a few words of condolence to the loved ones who are left behind.
Jesus was different. Throughout the Gospels, there are many instances of Him preparing His disciples for His Passion and Death. In this Gospel passage, Jesus recognizes Mary's anointing of Him as prophetic of His own death and burial since it was customary to anoint the feet of a dead person in preparation for burial. While the chief priests are plotting the death of Jesus, Mary, the sister of Lazarus, performs this extravagant act of love, which cost her 300 days' wages. The passage includes touching details that set the scene: She wipes Jesus' feet with her hair, and the house is "filled with the fragrance of the oil" (v. 3).
Tellingly, Jesus' comment about leaving Mary alone comes in response to Judas' comment that the costly nard should have been sold and the money given to the poor. The Gospel writer lets us know that Judas is a thief and is only thinking of enriching himself at the expense of the poor he claims to champion.
What makes matters worse is that Judas holds the community purse for Jesus' band of disciples and enjoys a place of honor at the Master's side. It's enlightening for us to contrast Mary and Judas in this passage. Mary is expressing her loving faith in Jesus as He goes to His death. In contrast, the forces of darkness and unbelief are hinted at in Judas, who is only thinking of himself.
What about you? This Holy Week how will you deny yourself and place Jesus first?
My Savior, I want to show my love for You in special ways throughout my life. Show me how to love You more, like Mary at Bethany. Amen.
Diary of St. Faustina