Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, ‘Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?’ (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.’
When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
The contrast couldn’t be sharper: Judas, one of Jesus’ beloved inner circle, and Mary Magdalen, a redeemed sinner whose brother, Lazarus, Jesus had just raised from the dead. The one cynically speaks on behalf of the poor, and the other breaks all social norms of the day in a startling, sensuous response to Jesus’ forgiveness and call to true life.
And so we come to that holiest of weeks, the week of ultimate choice. For Jesus, his choice was to follow his Father’s will, which led to his execution alongside common criminals. In our own day, barely a week ago, the choice of Dutch Jesuit Fr. Frans Van Der Lugt was to stand with the embattled people of Syria–Christian and Muslim alike–which brutally cost him his own life.
For us, what choice will we make this week? Most likely, it will not result in martyrdom in a literal, public sense. But can it lead to greater death to self?
Pray that we, in our choices this week and well beyond, follow not Judas’ lead, but Mary’s and Fr. Van Der Lugt’s, and so unite ourselves more fully to Jesus’ own death, and to his glorious resurrection.
Teach me how to be compassionate to the suffering, to the poor, the blind, the lame, and the lepers. Show me, My Jesus, how you revealed your deepest emotions, as when you shed tears, or when you felt sorrow and anguish to the point of sweating blood and needed an angel to console you.
Above all, I want to learn how you supported the extreme pain of the cross, including the abandonment of your Father.
—Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J.Please share the Good Word with your friends!