Reflect on John 12

Anointing of Jesus/ From Augustine’s “La Cite de Dieu”, book I-X

What’s striking about this dinner party
is how our Lord brought out different things
from the different characters.

From Martha he received her typical VIP treatment,
accorded to him whenever he visited their home.
As always, she busied herself in the kitchen and waited on him.
It was what Martha did best, and it was her favorite way
of expressing her care for the Lord.

But as our Lord had pointed out in a previous visit,
in her desire to make him feel welcome,
she was missing out on his company.

Do you at times find yourself
preferring to be busy doing things
for the Lord–
like Martha–

rather than just being and spending time with him?

Martha’s sister Mary, as always, preferred to remain near the Lord.
This time, however, she was not content simply to sit at his feet and listen.
For some reason, this time she decided to do more:
She anointed the feet of Jesus with expensive aromatic oil.
Perhaps she sensed his anxiety as the day of his death approached,
and wanted to assure him of her friendship and care.

Do you identify more with Mary, 
with her great desire to be close to Jesus
and to offer your friendship to him?

Judas Iscariot loudly disapproved of Mary’s lavish gesture of love,
announcing quite self-righteously
that all that money should just have been saved for the poor.
He didn’t really care for the poor, we are told.

Maybe Mary’s blatant display of affection and love for the Lord
was simply too disconcerting for Judas
since he knew in his heart what he was about to do to Jesus
and he might have been afraid Jesus would know.

Does the Lord make you uncomfortable
like Judas
because of areas in your life
that you prefer to keep far from him?

There were also the uninvited crowds
who gathered around the house to see more of Jesus–as well as Lazarus.
They seemed hungry for more signs,
desperate for reassurances of God’s presence and action in their midst.

Do you identify more with these people and their needs?

Finally, we have the chief priests
whose minds were too closed and hearts too hardened.
Their attachment to their personal agenda have hindered them
from knowing and appreciating the Lord.
Do you have strong attachments too 
that get in the way of your relationship with the Lord?

Think carefully about whom you,
given your life here and now,
are most similar to,
whose reactions and sentiments to Jesus
are closest to yours.

They may have something to teach you.

Click on the name of that character:






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