Holy Monday: April 2                                                                

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.


            Here’s a story that “is what it is.”  It stands on its own.  I wonder if I’m verging on sacrilege to try to expound upon the gift of this episode in the Passion story? 

            In this act by the sister of Lazarus – from a family of some means – all sorts of images are stirred for us.  But among the many gifts the story has brought to the Church through all the centuries, perhaps one of the most enduring ones is created by the argument of Judas Iscariot. 

            How can we invest in cathedrals and art and music when people are hungry?  How can we tend to the Holy when there’s justice to be done in this world?  How can the offspring of the Holy One put energy into creating liturgy that lasts for only moments, when there are unmet needs in the community that go on and on? 

            I wonder if Jesus’ reply would raise the counter-question, “How can we not?” 

Lord, you do not bring easy answers to our most hastily-offered assertions.

In this, you have blessed your Church with food worth chewing on.

Rev. David T. Chafin

Deputy Regional Minister