Monday of Holy Week
(Isaiah 42:1-7; John 12:1-11)
In our day dead bodies are increasingly cremated. There seems to be an urgency to get on with life after the death of a loved one. The dead are memorialized with a service showing photos of them at significant junctures and telling stories of their peculiarities. Whatever value these modern rituals have, they cannot appreciate what is happening in today’s gospel.
Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, anoints Jesus “’for the day of (his) burial.’” Her action will preserve the body of Jesus at least for a while after his impending death. It will enable all the living at the time to remember his goodness perhaps until they too pass on. It is not the waste of resources that Judas claims. Quite the contrary, the anointing will allow Jesus’ gracious life to influence his friends in constructive ways.
Virtuous human actions are often transcended by God’s. In this case Mary’s anointing of Jesus as a way to remember him cedes to God’s raising him from the dead. The resurrection enables even us today to experience the presence of Jesus as an impetus to faithful and loving living.