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The anointing at Bethany

Gospel Reading: 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 Jesus, 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.

MARY… ANOINTED THE FEET OF JESUS

There are two major differences between the anointing in the Synoptic gospels and that in John: (1) in Mk 14:3-9 and Mt 26:6-13, the anointing is on the head; in John, on the feet; (2) in Mark and Matthew, the anointing takes place after Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, just two days before the passion (Mk 14:1); in John, it precedes the entry and takes place six days before the passion (12:1).

In the Old Testament, the king is anointed on the head (cf 1 Sm 10:1); anointing on the feet is for the dead. In Mark and Matthew, Jesus is anointed as the Messiah; but in John it is for Jesus’ burial (v 7). John (12:12-19) will relate Jesus’ triumphal entry to Jerusalem, symbolic of his resurrection. Although he is anointed to his death, he will rise from the dead. The raising of Lazarus from the dead prefigures Jesus’ resurrection.

As we start the Holy Week, let us imitate the humility, devotion, and generosity of Mary to serve Jesus. Let us devote more time to prayer as well as to corporal works of mercy, especially to the poorest of the poor, with whom Jesus identifies (cf Mt 25:31-45).

How can you imitate Mary’s humility, devotion, and generosity?

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.

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