Monday Holy Week Mass and Reflections 2012

Scripture readings for today's Mass 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.


My post on this Gospel from last year is here.

At two significant moments in Jesus’ life, there are stories about washing of feet. 

Mary's anointing of the feet of Jesus show a radically extravagant and fearless love for Christ.

Nard is fragrant oil from the root of a nard plant which grows in the mountains of northern India. It was used in incense, cosmetics, perfume, medicines and in burial preparation. The oil was enormously costly, 300 days wages or an annual salary.

It was also an action that exemplified the earthiness of humility and in a few days Jesus would affirm this himself by washing  the disciples feet at the Last Supper.

Mary's anointing was a sacramental action that Judas viewed as anathema.
 Luke's account is very different from John's and this article discusses who Mary was and the context in which the anointing took place

In Mark and Matthew's version of the story, it is not Judas who is indignant but “the disciples", but every time John mentions Judas he refers to his betrayal. 

Why was Judas critical of Mary’s lovely action? 

Maybe it reveals something fundamentally different incubating in his heart that had been taking place over a long time. 

The accounts say he was already a thief. Jesus had given Judas the task of being in charge of the common purse presumably because he saw that he was gifted in financial matters.

 Was he so deeply conflicted and embittered in his feelings and thoughts about Jesus that by this stage he was veering towards despair?

 Was he getting so frustrated and losing patience with Jesus because he was not the type of Messiah Judas thought he should be ?

 Had his greed for money and personal gain corrupted him and warped his views so much that he could no longer trust Jesus as the Messiah and was now ready to turn his back on his committments to him ?

It's hard to impute motives and it is easy to view Judas as being totally evil in stark terms. 

We all know the eventual outcome for Judas and maybe it symptomises our need for easy answers to pass judgement on him and make him a scapegoat who conveniently carries all our own projections of guilt and shame.

Life is messy and complex and giving easy answers as to the motives of Judas can set us up too easily to occupy a moral high ground. 

I know how easy it is to impute wrong or unworthy motives towards others.

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