Homilette for Monday, April 6, 2009

Monday of Holy Week

(Isaiah 42:1-7; John 12:1-7)

Humans may attack one another more mercilessly than wolves stalking sheep. They also may care for others with the tenderness of a bird mouth-feeding her chick. Horror stories of boy soldiers in Africa testify to the first assertion. Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity provide evidence of selfless love for the most miserable of people. In the gospel today we see both the worst and the best of humanity. Jesus is the touchstone which reveals a person’s soul.

Although Mary has reason to be grateful to Jesus, she expresses her love for him extravagantly. Because Jesus has brought her brother back to life, Mary pours expensive perfume over his feet. She intuitively recognizes that Jesus is more than a miracle worker but the Son of God whose self-deliverance to death is about to take away the sin of the world. As the aroma of Mary’s gracious deed fills the house, the forces of evil spread their darkness. Judas grumbles apparently because the perfume spent on Jesus could have been sold to line his own pocket. Also, the chief priests plan to kill Jesus as he threatens their authority over the people.

Typically, John’s Gospel is calling us to choose for or against Jesus. This episode implies that there is no possibility of half-heartedness. We are to serve him with a prodigal love that knows no boundaries or we are to opt for money or for power or perhaps for our own comfort and pleasure. We know the costs and benefits of both options. Which one will we follow?