On the Saturday night before that first Palm Sunday, and before the death of Jesus, a dinner party took place in the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, the three siblings in Bethany. It was to thank Our Lord for the great gift of his having raised Lazarus from the tomb. During that dinner, Mary brought in an expensive container of perfume and poured it over the feet of Jesus, wiping them with her hair. Again, a token of her gratitude for his having raised her brother to new life. This is described in today’s gospel reading at Mass. When that happened, Judas Iscariot protested, asking why that perfume was not sold and the money given to the poor. And when reporting this event in his gospel account, Saint John tells us that Judas was concerned not about the poor, but about the money, because he was a thief and used to help himself to the contributions given to the little group of Jesus and the apostles. Those words of Saint John always impress me. Having lived in community life for fifty-three years now, I can sympathize with Saint John who is aware that one of the twelve men chosen by Jesus to be his intimate friends, apostles, and the first bishops of the new Church, is stealing from Our Lord and the others! How sad, how demoralizing it must have been to know that one of his confreres is dishonest and immoral and would steal even from the savior of the world! We are all members of some sort of group—family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, church organizations, etc. And human nature being what it is, we can detect faults and failings in the others, and we are sometimes unaware that they can also see OUR faults and failings. But we can be sure that we don’t appear perfect to all our relatives, friends, and acquaintances. Or even to a single one of them. But I suppose that they usually put up with our irritating habits and attitudes just as we tolerate theirs with patience and in silence.
We know what Judas’s thievery led to, but that is another story. Let us, in our relationships with others, be patient, tolerant, and silent. Let us try to be as perceptive as we can be to the elements in our behavior that others find difficult to deal with and not to be so quick to criticize them and assume that we are without fault. As Our Lord said elsewhere in the gospel, remove the plank from your own eye before trying to remove the splinter from the eye of your neighbor. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: Father Brown composed this message some years ago.