Monday, April 10, 2017
Monday of Holy Week: The best for God
Mary anointing the feet of Jesus.
It is on this day, the Monday of Holy Week, that we turn our attention to the very time and place of that Monday after Palm Sunday -- at Bethania, or Bethany, where Our Divine Lord had supper at the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead, and his sisters, Martha and Mary. The Gospel according to St. John notes that Christ was there "six days before the Pasch," which would have been that Monday.
What transpires is described in the 12th chapter of the Gospel of St. John:
"1 Six days before the paschal feast, Jesus went to Bethany. Bethany was the home of Lazarus, the dead man whom Jesus raised to life. 2 And a feast was made for him there, at which Martha was waiting at table, while Lazarus was one of his fellow guests. 3 And now Mary brought in a pound of pure spikenard ointment, which was very precious, and poured it over Jesus’ feet, wiping his feet with her hair; the whole house was scented with the ointment. 4 One of his disciples, the same Judas Iscariot who was to betray him, said when he saw it, 5 Why should not this ointment have been sold? It would have fetched three hundred silver pieces, and alms might have been given to the poor. 6 He said this, not from any concern for the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse, and took what was put into it. 7 And Jesus said, Let her alone; enough that she should keep it for the day when my body is prepared for burial. 8 You have the poor among you always; I am not always among you. 9 A great number of the Jews heard that he was there and went out there, not only on account of Jesus, but so as to have sight of Lazarus, whom he raised from the dead."
Here we have a wonderful precedent for giving splendid and fitting honor to almighty God, not using the excuse of alms for the poor to shortchange the worship of God -- for, indeed, beautiful and dignified worship can be shared by the poor as well. What a treasure is the magnificent cathedral or basilica for even the lowest among us -- how else would such a person ever enjoy an atmosphere or prayer, calm, and beauty in the presence of God? How often does the hypocrite, like Judas, attack the Church in the name of the poor; he who does so little to help the poor compared to the Church -- yet is all too willing to live in personal luxury.
There is no conflict in giving fitting worship to God, adorning his consecrated house, and giving charity to the poor. Indeed, they should be intertwined -- and the same Church that does more for the poor of the world, is also the fitting origin of the greatest masterpieces of art and architecture. The Truth, the Good, and the Beautiful -- all these fit together. To cheat God of His worship in the name of the poor is to impoverish all.