Monday of Holy Week 2011 : Take Time To Smell the Roses

Mass readings for today are here

Gospel John 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 litre 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.

When a person approaches their final moments it is human nature for the people closest to them to place great stock in those final conversations and words said by the person near to death.

Yet often the messiness of death is so absurdly random that what we, the living choose to emphasise and remember can sometimes later be a cause for disagreement.

I have a feeling that this sentence said by Jesus is one of those cases where people's  interpretation differs after the event.

Anointing feet of Jesus by James Tissot
 What we are seeing is an impetuous display of lavish extravagant love from Mary which causes a major upset.

Jesus says : "You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

Some people today say : "Ah you see the futility of making preferential options for the poor a priority for social justice because Jesus himself said there will always be poverty.

But perhaps Jesus was giving a very human and poignant plea to his disciples to stop their hyperactive sense of righteousness for once !

He knew His time with them was getting near the end. He was spending some of His final hours with His closest friends. 
His own need for human compassion and a gentle loving touch must have been enormous, given the fore- knowledge of the terrifying and brutal ordeal He was to face by the end of the week.

Maybe the mild admonishment from Jesus is something we can relate to today :  the perils of the workaholic , the professional carers who burn out before their due time, who work so hard that they have no time for their own families;

it's a warning to those who outspend their gifts on others but who can't take time to stop and smell the roses every so often....

I love the way J. Gresham Machen  brings this passage to life for us in the modern sense – From "The Claims of Love "

"In these words to the woman at Bethany our Lord sets us free from the oppressive tyranny of the efficiency expert…"

Jesus is telling us here that life is so very precious. We need to step away from the demands of everyday life now and again.

 We all need to make some special time with our loved ones and anoint their feet with special oils a little more often while they are still alive in this world.

Maybe Jesus was telling us that we should not wait until after the death of someone we love before we fill the house with the fragrance of the oil.

Do it NOW !!

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