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Monday of Holy Week

March 17, 2008

Blessed Monday!

All-powerful God, by the suffering and death of Your Son,
strengthen and protect us in our weakness.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Opening Prayer for today’s Mass)

Isaiah 42:1-7 (the Messiah comes to rescue, not destroy)
Psalm 27:1-3, 13-14 “The Lord is my light and my salvation”
+John 12:1-11 (Mary anoints Jesus’ feet)

In this world, the living and the dead, outwardly indistinguishable, feast together at the same table. It will not always be so.

Jesus has finally returned to Bethany, home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. It’s the first they’ve seen Him–the first anyone in Judea has seen Him–since He called Lazarus out of the tomb. Resurrection is foremost in their minds, evoking gratitude in Lazarus’ family and curiosity and amazement in the general populace. He’s come on the day when families select the lamb for the Passover (see Exodus 12:3), a day of feasting. Perhaps this was along the lines of our carnival (literally, “farewell to meat”) right before Lent. For the Jewish people, the days before Passover are “farewell to leaven”, since no leaven of any kind (symbolic of corruption)–nor leavened bread, nor even grains that can be made into raised bread–may remain in their homes during this feast of unleavened bread. The house must be thoroughly scoured, and all leaven either consumed or burned.

The Passover Lamb has come, to rid the world of corruption. Mary, Martha and Lazarus welcome Him to share in the feast as they purify their home.

Jesus, the resurrection and the life (John 11:25), joins these friends who are alive in faith (see John 5:24), who are bearing good fruits of service (Martha served), companionship (Lazarus joined Him at table) and generosity (Mary lavished His feet with costly fragrant ointment).

He brings with Him one who is dead in sin (see Ephesians 2:5), bearing the corrupt fruit of thievery. Judas, entrusted with the common purse, has already betrayed his responsibility by helping himself to the contents. Jesus never even hints at this. He reserves His warning for the greater evil, for the corruption that would malign generous service of God on the self-serving pretext of providing for the poor. “Leave her alone. Let her keep it against the day they prepare Me for burial. The poor you always have with you, but Me you will not always have” (John 12:7-8).

Judas, this blind prisoner of sin, still has time to repent, time to purify his own house of the leaven of corruption so that he too may rise from his soul-death to celebrate the eternal Passover. And indeed, Jesus has come to rescue just such as he. “I have set You…to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon those who live in darkness” (Isaiah 42:7). Yet time is growing short. “Me you will not always have.” Those who are dead in sin will be eternally separated from Christ when the breath of this mortal life fails them.

We have our own house-cleaning to do. “Get rid of the old yeast to make of yourselves fresh dough, unleavened loaves, as it were; Christ our Passover has been sacrificed. Let us celebrate the feast not with the old yeast, that of corruption and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (I Corinthians 5:7-8).

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