The readings for the Monday of Holy Week begin with a prophetic passage from the book of Isaiah. It is the first of the four servant songs found in what biblical scholars call the Deutero-Isaiah text consisting of chapters 40-55 of Isaiah. The first servant song is found in chapter 42 of Isaiah and foretells of a servant who brings about justice to the nations by the means of his meekness. The context of this servant is backdropped by whom biblical scholars believe to be writing during the Babylonian captivity of Israel. What does the prophet suggest is the reason for Israel’s suffering? Leslie J. Hoppe explains, “The Israelite kingdoms fell precisely because of the failure of the monarchy to maintain a just social and economic system. Judah’s mission to establish justice is repeated three times.”
The major offenses of Israel against God which primarily the book of Isaiah is concerned with are threefold: Idolatry, religious ritualism, and indifference to the poor—the orphan, widow, and foreigner.
The Gospel reading is interesting to pair with this passage from Isaiah because it focuses on the act of worship in comparison to works of mercy. So, what should Christians take from this passage?
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.” 
Some Catholic circles take up a lot of energy asking, what should the faithful be more concerned with proper reverent worship of God or works of mercy to those most in need? The answer to the question is it’s not an either/or but it’s a both/and. The correct answer has to do with good intention because the Church could certainly concern itself with mere religious ritualism like the Israelites who forgot their responsibility to the poor; and so, they were sent away in exile. However, as the Gospel indicates the intention of true worship, like Mary, exceeds the one who does charity simply for their own gain whether monetary or honor.
So, at the beginning of Holy Week, let us strive to live out a life of holiness by asking God to give us the wisdom to live an active faith in faithful worship to Him.
 Leslie J. Hoppe, Isaiah, ed. Daniel Durken, vol. 13, The New Collegeville Bible Commentary (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2012), 111.
 New American Bible, Revised Edition. (Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011), Jn 12:3–8.