(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.
When one comes back from the dead, a feast is not out of the ordinary. Most people do hold a banquet to celebrate the new life that they will live. It is no wonder that Lazarus had a feast held in Jesus’ honor. But it is not only for his sake that such a celebration is held. There are new lives that do not necessarily spring from the resurrection. There are those that find new impetus in life by a soulful encounter. This is where Mary enters. Her offering of a pound of costly perfume is her own way of celebrating her life transformed when she encountered Jesus.
But there are those who are not happy at the good fortune of others. Judas would rather see the practicality, or the lack of it, of the expressions of celebration that night. He was appalled at the seeming waste that Mary did in anointing the feet of the Lord with the costly perfume. He could not enter into the spirit of the feast. His heart is stuck with the mundane concerns of the world. He is not alone in his misery. The chief priests too were not happy. They saw the resurrection of Lazarus as a disaster. This incapacity to feel joy at the good fortunes of others is indicative of a malady of the heart. These are the ones who will live and die in misery because they see joy as costly and disastrous commodity.
Fr. Paulson V. Veliyannoor, CMF