October 20, 2017

Holy Monday 2012

Anointing at Bethany by Marko Ivan Rupnik

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.

During Holy Week, we are running a special post each day here at Internet Monk. We glean one word or phrase for contemplation from the Gospel passage for the day, and hear a devotional thought from one of my favorite old books by Dr. John Killinger. The copy I have is called Devotional Thoughts on the Gospels but it was republished as Day by Day With Jesus.

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Today’s phrase is ANOINTING FOR BURIAL. Nard, the main ingredient in the perfume used in this story, is made from the spikenard plant, which grows in Himalayan regions of China, Nepal, and India. Crushed, it is distilled into a thick essential oil that is used as perfume, incense, and in ayurvedic medicinal practices. The text indicates that the jar of nard perfume used to anoint Jesus was worth an entire year’s wages, so it was rare and expensive. It also suggests that this particular pound of nard was being kept as burial lotion for Lazarus and his family members.

Thus, John Killinger makes this observation:

One important factor in Mary’s behavior must not be overlooked, and that is the raising of Lazarus as narrated in chapter eleven. Mary could well part with the valuable perfume she was saving for her own burial because she no longer felt the need of it. Jesus had raised her brother from the dead. He had said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” In a wonderful display of faith, she was “wasting” the precious ointment reserved for her funeral preparations, confident that Jesus had made it unnecessary. In what better way could she demonstrate her newfound understanding that he was the Lord of eternal life? The fact that Judas did not see the “logic” of her gesture meant that he was one of the sons of darkness. Like the Pharisees and high priests, he belonged to the evil one.

Prayer for Holy Monday:

Father, on this day I acknowledge you as King of heaven and Giver of life. You gave your Son Jesus to die that I might have life forever in your Kingdom.

I confess that I do not always value my inheritance as I should. I do not seek first your Kingdom and righteousness. As a result, I hold on to earthly treasures as a hedge against death and loss. I am humbled and ashamed as I watch Mary pour out her riches on Jesus; body in her act of extravagant worship. She knew what I often forget — that “love so amazing, so divine demands my life, my soul, my all.”

Forgive me, renew me, and lead me, that in this holiest of weeks I may delight in your will and walk in your ways. Amen.

Comments

  1. Raymund G. Toledo says:

    The greatest gift we can give to the Lord to prove our love for Him and to honor Him is the gift of one’s self. We must wholly be dedicated to the Lord and remain always faithful to Him. We can never be more generous than our God but He has given His children the capability to express their total love for Him and that should be our purpose in life. Having this in mind and heart, we will always follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and live the gospel message everyday of our lives.

  2. Charles Joshua says:

    Praise the Lord. Amen.

  3. Okay…okay..okay… Let;s be honest on this Monday morning! How many here have the Monday Blues and are staring at the clock and counting down the time until Friday!! 😀

  4. I don’t think that the focus of this story ought be ‘us’ and what we should do.

    But rather Jesus and who and what He is.

    Yes we should always place Jesus first and make Him the focus in our lives…but truth be told, there’s not a one of us who does that…not all the time, anyway.

    Hence, the occassion of Holy Week, and why He had to come to begin with.

    • Steve, you will notice that my response to this story was that of humility and confession. Her example shames me — it is as the Law to my soul, revealing my own lack of extravagant love toward Jesus.

      Forgive me, renew me, and lead me… is where this story takes me. To Jesus and his provision.

  5. Reading that this morning set the tone for the entire day. Thanks.

    Tom

  6. Beautiful