Generosity and Selflessness
Gospel Reflection for April 3, 2023
“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.” (John 12:1-11 NABRE)
At first, we may be tempted to side with Judas in this scenario. So many people could have been helped if the oil had been sold and the money given to the poor. Yet, Jesus defends Mary’s actions and allows her to anoint Him with the expensive oil.
Jesus had brought Lazarus, Martha and Mary’s brother, back to life and gave them more time with this loved one of theirs. As a result, Mary wanted to demonstrate the depth of her love for Jesus and her faith in Him by anointing His feet with the expensive oil. She wanted to demonstrate her gratitude to Jesus for giving her brother life.
Judas questioned Mary’s actions and asked why the oil wasn’t sold so that the money could be given to the poor. Though this question seems perfectly valid, Judas had an ulterior motive for wanting the oil to be sold for money. He wanted to steal some of the profits.
We have all probably mimicked Judas before with our actions. Have you ever done a good deed for others or to serve God, but it actually benefited you in some way as well? Perhaps others saw your good deeds and praised you for it. Sometimes we mimic Judas in his deception by simply appearing to be super holy to others, while we are secretly living in sin.
May we learn from today’s Gospel to follow Mary’s example of generous and selfless service to God. Whereas Judas sought to receive benefits for a seemingly good act, Mary sought nothing in return for her demonstration of love to Jesus. May we, too, especially during this Holy Week, seek to love and serve Jesus with generosity and selflessness, and without the desire for a reward. Further, like Lazarus, when people desire to do us harm for our faith in Jesus and the work He does in our lives, may we hold fast to our faith in the Lord and trust in Him.