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Reading our own hearts

– Monday of Holy Week –

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 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. [John 12:3-11]

Lazarus has become something of a local celebrity. Because of this, his life is once more in jeopardy. Can the religious leaders not see what they are doing?

The human ability to miss what is essential is a recurring theme throughout the life and ministry of Jesus. It comes to a head during Holy Week. Those who feel threatened by him increasingly believe they know the best course of action and can see what they need to do. Yet, the reality is that they do not see at all. They have no idea of who Jesus is. Not only that, they cannot see how it is that God is bringing about his plan, not only despite them, but even through them.

Compare Mary of Bethany and Judas in this account. Both are acting, and their actions are impacting on Jesus. One is motivated by love and, even though her action is extravagant, Jesus appreciates it because of the love that inspires it. The other is motivated by something else (jealousy, point scoring, greed?), and even though his suggestion is reasonable, Jesus rejects it. He can see into our hearts and responds to what is motivating us.

Identifying what motivates us is important. Allowing ourselves to become present to the truth inside can be challenging and, at times, mortifying. Take the opportunity to reflect on what motivates the things that you do, and ask God into your heart to provide the healing you need.

by Shane Dwyer

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