Thoughts on Gospel Reading for Holy Monday, John 12:1 – 11:
Today Jesus was invited to dinner by his friends, Martha, Mary and Lazarus, siblings. It had to be a joyous evening that flowed from a deep gratitude: their brother Lazarus was physically once dead and now is alive because Jesus raised him from the dead!
The ointment, aromatic nard, must’ve been a very precious possession. Mary doesn’t put a price on it because Jesus is worth infinitely more. She anoints the feet of Jesus with the ointment and dries his feet with her hair. What generosity and love! The fragrance of it permeated the house (in contrast with the stench of corruption from the dead body of Lazarus just a few days earlier!) Usually, the honored dinner guest has their feet washed with plain water, and one of the lowest servants is relegated with task. Mary’s gesture was prophetic, a preparation for his burial, in advance. But Judas isn’t having it.
It wasn’t just Jesus who invited, the disciples were there as well. Judas protests that the ointment could have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor. But that’s because he was thief who helped himself to the moneybag which he was in charge of. He was thinking in terms of dollars and cents for his own benefit and not for the poor. “How can I profit from this?” Giving to the poor was just an excuse that he threw out there to mask his true intention – – and if the ointment was sold, he would’ve stolen from the poor!
It’s interesting what Jesus says about it – – I think it’s a reverse way of saying, “whatever you do to the least of these, you do unto me.” If whatever you do for the poor, you do for Jesus then whatever you do for Jesus, the Divine Person himself, right before you, you do for the poor. Jesus is that inextricably united to the poor. What Jesus seems to be saying is that, “you will always have me in the person of the poor, but you will not always have me in person – – as I am now before you.” And so he consented to Mary’s anointing and praised her for it.
Mary of Bethany didn’t count the cost, no expense was too much, nothing was too extravagant – – because she knew who it was in her midst. As for Judas, he did not value Jesus in the least, putting a price on him: 30 pieces of silver. He couldn’t see Jesus for who he was. And that brings him to the betrayal. He sold Jesus out to people who wanted to kill Lazarus after Jesus raised from the dead, which was the greatest of his works so far attesting that he was Messiah and Lord God.