Monday, April 18, 2011

"The smallest good deed is worth a thousand grand intentions"

"There are three kinds of givers -- the flint, the sponge and the honeycomb. To get anything out of a flint you must hammer it. And then you get only chips and sparks. To get water out of a sponge you must squeeze it, and the more you use pressure, the more you will get. But the honeycomb just overflows with its own sweetness. Which kind of giver are you?"

Gospel text (Jn 12,1-11):
Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany ,
where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served,
while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him.
Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil
made from genuine aromatic nard
and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair;
the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples,
and the one who would betray him, said,
“Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages
and given to the poor?”
He said this not because he cared about the poor
but because he was a thief and held the money bag
and used to steal the contributions.
So Jesus said, “Leave her alone.
Let her keep this for the day of my burial.
You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came,
not only because of him, but also to see Lazarus,
whom he had raised from the dead.
And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too,
because many of the Jews were turning away
and believing in Jesus because of him.

In today’s gospel, Mary anoints Jesus' feet and she wipes them with her hair, because she truly believes this is what she must do. «Mary took a pound of costly perfume made from genuine nard» (Jn 12:3). It is an act of love, and like any act of love, difficult to understand by those who do not share it. Saint Augustine wrote about that moment in history saying: «Maybe in this world the feet of our Lord are still in need. For, of whom, other than his members, said He: ‘Whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me. You spend that which you do not need, but you have done that which is good for my feet’».

Judas' complaint has no utility whatsoever, and it only led him to treachery. Mary's act led her to love her Lord even more and, as a consequence, to love more all the “feet” of Christ there are on this world.

Our faithful lives in Jesus are like that perfume. Our songs of praise are sweet-smelling (Sir 39:14). Our acts of love to others are a sweet fragrance (Sg 4:10). Even our charitable gifts for God's sake are fragrant (Phil 4:18). "We are an aroma of Christ for God's sake, both among those who are being saved and those on the way to destruction; to the latter an odor dealing death, to the former a breath bringing life" (2 Cor 2:15-16). Jesus "employs us to diffuse the fragrance of His knowledge everywhere" (2 Cor 2:14). Jesus uses even our very presence to change a house, neighborhood, school, workplace, etc. All we must do is remain in Jesus to keep our fragrance. When we smell good, we can change the entire atmosphere of a place simply by being present.

Jesus wants His house to be filled (Lk 14:23). Let's fill His house, the Church, with the sweet-smelling fragrance of our lives of faith in Him (2 Cor 2:16). On this Monday of Holy Week, pour out the fragrance of your life of obedient faith (Rm 1:5; Gal 2:19-20) as "a sweet-smelling oblation to the Lord" (Lv 1:9).

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