Monday of Holy Week
1st Reading: Is 42:1-7
Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, Upon whom I have put my Spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations, Not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench, Until he establishes justice on the earth; the coastlands will wait for his teaching. Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spreads out the earth with its crops, Who gives breath to its people and spirit to those who walk on it: I, the Lord, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, To open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.
Gospel: Jn 12:1-11
Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him. Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions. So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came, not only because of him, but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too, because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him.
Love overcomes fear: We have started the holy week with a reading from Isaiah. He tells us of the suffering servant, who desires to lay down his life; he suffers for our sake. As we start the celebrations, we see Jesus visiting the house of Mary, Martha and Lazarus whom he raised from the dead. This is the time the chief priests and the Pharisees are looking for him to kill him, the family of Lazarus could not fear to receive and offer a meal to Jesus in their home. We see Mary anointing Jesus with a very expensive perfume, drying it with her hair. Judas is not happy with Mary’s gesture that’s why he desires that the perfume would have been sold and the money given to the poor (greed). But to Jesus, what Mary (generosity) was doing was more important. Let’s imitate the family of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.
Prayer: Lord, help me to love and care for the poor.
SOLIDARITY WITH THE BRUISED HUMANITY: The image of Yahweh’s servant in Isaiah clearly presents who Jesus is. He is the one who has been anointed with God’s Spirit to bring healing to the wounded and freedom to the captives. He does not destroy those he finds with bruises but instead he heals them: “A bruised reed he shall not break.” He comes as light for the nations in order to re-enkindle it: “a smoldering wick he shall not quench.” In Jesus we see that God is not ashamed of our wounds. In fact, Jesus comes so close to the bruises of humanity that he himself gets bruised in order to offer a fundamental healing for all wounds. Mary in the gospel, by pouring out the expensive oil, points to the fact of the costly death of Jesus that that should fill the whole universe with the fragrance of love.
YOU ALWAYS HAVE THE POOR WITH YOU: These lines are often misquoted by some “pietistic” people to question the work of the church in areas of social justice. What is Jesus doing here? He is quoting the Book of Deuteronomy in brief. For the Jewish listener it is not difficult to make the connection to the context of the original text, Dt 15:10-11: “When you give to him, you must give with an open heart; for this, Yahweh your God will bless you in all your actions and in all your undertakings. Of course, there will never cease to be poor people in the country, and that is why I am giving you this command: Always be open handed with your brother, and with anyone in your country who is in need and poor.” Jesus is challenging the attitude of Judas, who did not care for the poor but was a thief. On the other hand, the statement also adds that Jesus is going to be killed and this oil will be needed for his burial.