Monday, March 29, 2021

Monday in Holy Week 2021


 Our Lady of the Lake Church, Sparta, NJ
Today's reading is the story of Mary of Bethany anointing Jesus at her home in Bethany from John 12 . 1-11

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.

Mary's loving gesture, using ointment which might have been used to anoint a dead body in preparation for burial, shows that she, at least, understands what is coming. The disciples are scandalised by her action, though it is only Judas who says so. He focuses on the waste of what could have been sold "for the poor", though John say that this wasn't the real reason for his disapproval. Jesus response that "you always have the poor with you" can sound as if Jesus doesn't care about the poor, but in reality he has spent his whole life caring about and for them. Jesus isn't saying that helping the poor doesn't matter; it is just that he wants to recognise and affirm the value of this act of tenderness and empathy. We don't have to choose one or the other. Indeed, we cannot truly love the poor (or any other group of people) if we aren't capable of showing love and empathy to those around us. Mary sees Jesus, not just as a great teacher and leader, but as a human being who knows that he faces a terrible time. 

Questions to ponder: 

  • Has anyone ever done a small act of kindness which made a big difference to you?
  • What do you think Judas' real problem was with this act?
  • Imagine you were there - where would you be in the story? who do you most identify with?

Join us tonight for our podcast service of Compline
You can find the podcast here.    There will also be a service of Compline in church at 8pm
Service sheet

The reading tonight is John 12.1-11 (see above)

You might like to find a candle to use through the week, if you have one.

You might also like to listen to the YouTube clips below before you start the podcast, or some music you have which you like.

Drop, drop slow tears, by Orlando Gibbons

The woman with the Alabaster Box, by Arvo Part. 
This refers to the story recorded in Luke 7.36, when Jesus is anointed by a woman who gatecrashes a dinner at the house of Simon the Pharisee, but this story is echoed by the story in John 12, when the woman who anoints Jesus is Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. In both cases the women's gesture of love and gratitude is frowned upon by the onlookers, but affirmed by Jesus.


A poem for Monday in Holy Week, by Malcolm Guite.

The Anointing at Bethany

Come close with Mary, Martha , Lazarus
So close the candles stir with their soft breath
And kindle heart and soul to flame within us
Lit by these mysteries of life and death.
For beauty now begins the final movement
In quietness and intimate encounter
The alabaster jar of precious ointment
Is broken open for the world’s true lover,

The whole room richly fills to feast the senses
With all the yearning such a fragrance brings,
The heart is mourning but the spirit dances,
Here at the very centre of all things,
Here at the meeting place of love and loss
We all foresee, and see beyond the cross.


Decorate a jam jar by sticking things to the outside of it - pictures, coloured tissue, ribbons, lace etc. Through the week, add notes to it whenever you notice an act of kindness, for you or for others, or if you see references to kindness in the news. At the end of the week, empty out the jar and thank God for the kindness people show.

Find things around the house that smell (nice!) Blindfold each other and see if you can identify them.

Check out the suggestions on today's Pinterest board.

No comments:

Post a Comment