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.
As Holy Week begins, the tension between extravagant love and human weakness is on vivid display. While Mary tenderly anoints Jesus’ feet with expensive oil and dries them with her hair, Judas and others blinded by pride can only criticize her generosity. Jesus’ response confirms the power of love: he receives Mary’s gift in humble appreciation. Unwavering love will conquer all, but the journey through the weakness of sin and death is certain to be rough at times. Jesus’ model of humble gratitude is echoed by St. Ignatius’ teachings: God remains with us always, and gratitude – even for the dark times – enables eyes of faith to sense his presence. Allowing love to help us balance our persistent human weakness ensures that we’re following God’s path of life through the darkness.
Am I grateful for my weaknesses and vulnerabilities? Does pride blind me from recognizing God’s presence during my difficult times?
—Cindy Ristroph is a parish minister at St. Aloysius Parish in Baton Rouge, LA, and occasionally writes for the dotMagis blog.
A cup must be empty before it can be filled.
If it is already full, it can’t be filled again except by emptying it out.
In order to fill anything, there must be a hollowed-out space.
Otherwise it can’t receive.
This is especially true of God’s word.
In order to receive it, we must be hollowed out.
We must be capable of receiving it,
emptied of the false self and its endless demands.
When Christ came, there was no room in the inn.
It was full. The inn is a symbol of the heart.
God’s word, Christ, can take root only in a hollow.
—William Breault, SJ, published in Hearts on Fire: Praying with Jesuits
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