Posted by: fvbcdm | March 30, 2015

Monday of Holy Week (30 March 2015)

On the Saturday night before Our Lord’s passion and death, when Saint Mary of Bethany poured a whole bottle of perfumed oil over the feet of Jesus, Judas Iscariot—the apostle who was going to betray Jesus just a few days later—objected to “this waste,” as he called it. And he added that that amount and quality of perfume could have been sold for three hundred days’ wages.

Now, three hundred days’ wages amounted to a year’s income. The Jews did not work on the Sabbath, of which there are fifty-two in the year, nor did they work during the week of Passover and several other religious holidays. So the year contained about three hundred working days. Was Judas exaggerating wildly, or was the perfume that Saint Mary used really that costly? Stop and think for a moment of your yearly income. How much Chanel #5 would that buy, or some other expensive scent from Paris? Certainly more than you would use on any one occasion. But then, Jesus had just raised her brother Lazarus from the tomb, so Saint Mary’s gratitude knew no bounds, and she wanted to show it by the lavishness of her gesture toward Jesus.

What about us? We have more reason to be grateful to him than did she because of her brother. Jesus has undergone the terrible sufferings of his passion and death for our redemption. Every time we see a crucifix, we should remind ourselves: he did that for ME and for MY salvation as much as for anyone else’s. Every time we make the sign of the cross, and draw with our hand the instrument of death on which Our Lord gave his life, we should again remind ourselves: he died on the cross for ME. What does he ask in return? Certainly not perfume. Rather, the day-by-day living of the life which he asks of us. Prayer, service to others, the frequentation of the sacraments, the patient toleration of, and even welcome to, our sufferings. Every night, we might well ask of ourselves: have I today poured over the feet of the Lord this day my “prayers, works, joys, and sufferings” as we say in the morning offering? Have I said to him “Thank you!” by my actions this day, as Mary of Bethany did when he was physically present there with her?

And if we do use perfumes or scented lotions and cosmetics of various kinds, let them remind us of that perfume at Bethany and of what we can do to be equally demonstrative of our gratitude to Our Blessed Lord. Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God Bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note: This message was composed some years ago.

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