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By Fr. Joseph, MIC (Apr 6, 2009)
Readings: Is 42:1-7; Jn 12:1-11
The house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. Jn 12:3
So much in the Gospels comes to us in the context of a meal, and nowhere is this more true or more significant than in Holy Week.
Today's Gospel brings us to a banquet given for Jesus in the little village of Bethany, where He had raised His friend Lazarus from the dead.
Lazarus is there, along with his sisters Martha and Mary, whom we see in the same roles as in Luke's portrait of them: Martha as the busy hostess serving the meal, and Mary completely attentive to Jesus (see Lk 10:38).
Here, again, Mary seems to have "chosen the better part" (Lk 10:42). Taking a pound of expensive ointment (the value of a year's wages for a laborer), she anoints the feet of Jesus and dries them with her hair, and "the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil" (Jn 12:3).
On a spiritual level, what fills the house is the fragrance of Mary's complete devotion to Jesus, her generous living out of His teaching that "where your treasure is, there also will your heart be" (Lk 12:34). Christ's presence is a priceless treasure to Mary. The ointment has not been wasted. It has been used to express the humble and reverent worship of an undivided heart.
The heart of Judas, on the other hand, has been drawn to the values of the world. Filled by the desire for wealth and personal gain, he sees only the monetary value of the ointment: "Why was this perfume not sold? It could have brought three hundred silver pieces" (Jn 12:5).
This contrast between Mary and Judas provides us with a great measuring stick to help us examine our own hearts as we enter Holy Week. Does my heart belong completely to God, or have I allowed it to become too attached to the things of the world?
Lord Jesus, I invite You to send Your Spirit into my heart to reconsecrate it to You. Purify my desires, Lord, and free me from anything that is not of You. Amen.