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.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Standing firm in service to God
In today’s Gospel passage, I find myself standing with Mary of Bethany and watching how she responds to the criticism she receives for her actions. What does she say to Judas? I imagine she is aware that her actions surprise everyone at dinner, and that Judas’s words are not coming from a place of genuine concern for the poor. I imagine Mary standing firm in the knowledge that she is choosing to serve Jesus in the unique way she has been called to do.
How do I react when someone criticizes a decision that is close to my heart? It can be hard to act boldly in the face of opposition. The First Principle and Foundation is one of my favorite prayers for anchoring myself to God in a challenging situation. Ultimately, only I know how God is calling me. I pray for the freedom to center myself on my unique vocation to love, and “direct all that is me toward your praise”.
Lord my God, when your love spilled over into creation,
You thought of me.
I am from Love, of Love, for Love.
Let my heart, O God, always recognize, cherish,
and enjoy your goodness in all of creation.
Direct all that is me to your praise.
Teach me reverence for every person, all things.
Energize me in your service.
Lord God may nothing ever distract me from your love…
Neither health nor sickness,
wealth nor poverty,
honor nor dishonor,
long life nor short life. May I never seek nor choose to be other than You intend me to be. Amen.
—St. Ignatius Loyola, First Principle & Foundation, trans. Bergan & Schwan, 1985.