Sunday 17 March 2013

Bible Book:

John 12:1-8 Sunday 17 March 2013


As we enter passiontide, the minds of Christians start to turnfirmly towards the cross. This passage sees Jesus on his way toJerusalem, about a week before the Passover festival. A couple ofverses earlier (John 11:55-57), people expect him to stay away,for his own safety, yet here he is, in a village close by the city,making the journey which will see him arrested, tried and executed.But first, he pauses to spend time in the company of hisfriends.

This story of the woman who pours perfume over Jesus' feetappears, in different forms, in three of the four Gospels (Mark14:3-9 and Luke 7:36-38). John's Gospel gives her anidentity - Mary, sister of Martha and of Lazarus. And as so oftenhappens, John's Gospel adds some detail, to set the scene and makeit easier for us to imagine ourselves in the story.

One such piece of detail is the reminder (just in case thereader has forgotten!) that Mary's brother, present at the feast,is the same Lazarus whom Jesus has raised from the dead (verse 1).This marks a contrast with Jesus' interpretation of Mary's gift -that she has anointed him for his burial. The story comesimmediately before Jesus enters Jerusalem (John12:12-15), for the climax of his ministry. So, when he entersand is acclaimed as a king, he will enter already anointed fordeath.

Jesus' response also highlights another contrast, this timebetween Mary and Judas Iscariot, the disciple who will betrayJesus. John's Gospel's portrait of Judas is far from sympathetichere - he is evil and his motives must be solely aboutself-enrichment. But whether the accusation of theft is fair ornot, Judas is certainly right that the gift could have achievedmuch among the poor. Three hundred denarii would be roughly ayear's income for the average worker.

To Ponder

  • Mary pours out a year's income - perhaps the family's insuranceor pension plan. What is Jesus worth to you? Is there anything youwould not feel able to give? What does Jesus ask of us - and whatdoes the Church ask? Does the Church ask too much, or toolittle?
  • Judas, thief or otherwise, raises a question which goes to theheart of the ethical use of money. Is it ever acceptable to spendlarge amounts on luxury, while many go hungry, while children diefor lack of basic health care, while even basic education is beyondthe reach of millions? Why?
Previous Page Saturday 30 March 2013
Next Page Monday 18 March 2013