Posted by: fvbcdm | March 25, 2013

Monday of Holy Week (25 March 2013)

The gospel of today’s Mass—that of Monday in Holy Week—recounts the story of Our Lord having dinner with his friends Martha, Mary, and Lazarus in Bethany, a village about two miles from Jerusalem, on the other side of the Mount of Olives. It was this same Lazarus whom Jesus had raised from the dead a few days earlier, and he and his sisters gave a dinner party for Our Lord to show their gratitude. As a special act of thanks to Our Lord, Saint Mary of Bethany had bought a quantity of expensive perfume which, during the course of the meal, she poured over Jesus’s feet. It was a generous, even lavish, indication of her devotion to Jesus and gratitude for the restored life of her brother. But no sooner had she done this than Judas Iscariot, the apostle who was even then making arrangements to betray Our Lord, objected. He has a personality like Scrooge; he is not impressed with Saint Mary’s devotion, but only the amount of money with which she purchased the perfume. He has calculated that it was 300 days’ wages—nearly a year of day labor. Let us remember that when Judas went to the enemies of Jesus to negotiate his betrayal of him, he begins his conversation by asking, “How much . . . ?” And Saint John the gospel writer tells us that Judas was not concerned with the poor, as he claimed to be, but was a thief who USED TO STEAL from the common purse in which contributions to Jesus and the apostles were kept. His pilfering from his Master and his fellow apostles is despicable, and leads to the greater greed whereby he asks, “How much will you give me, and I will betray him to you?” So on the night of the dinner party in Bethany, we find the loving, devoted, grateful, generous, even lavish act of Saint Mary contrasted with the contemptible, hate-filled, greedy objection of Judas who, just a week later, took the money that he agreed upon for the blood of Jesus, flung it in a great fit of remorse back into the Temple, and then committed suicide.

Let us look into our own hearts. Where do we fit into the scale which runs from Saint Mary of Bethany to Judas Iscariot? Can we identify with her devotion, or with the question of Judas: “Why this waste?” Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown., O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago.

 

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