Palm/Passion Sunday, March 29, 2015
Mark 14:1-11 (NRSV)
If you haven't been keeping up with this Lenten blog, you might find this a strange text for Palm or Passion Sunday. We've been reading the entire Gospel of Mark through Lent and now come to this passage which may fit better than a first glance allows.
We see the danger that Jesus is in from without and within.
|Etruscan perfume vase shaped like a female head, |
on which is inscripted the word “suthina” (“for the tomb”)
in retrograde Etruscan script. Bronze, early 2nd century BC.
When Jesus states that we will always have the poor with us, some unfortunately feel that this is a good justification for ignoring those in need.
Of course, ignoring the poor is an interpretive choice that glosses over far more of the teachings and actions of Jesus than we should be comfortable with. It is likely that Jesus is quoting from Deuteronomy 15:11 which moves us toward action:
Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, “Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.”
Three hundred denarii was extravagant as one denarius was what a normal laborer would make in a day's work. We see the devotion of this unknown woman who understands what is coming better than the disciples.
As we enter Holy Week, we look toward the cross. We, too, are preparing Jesus for burial. We do so knowing "the rest of the story" as Paul Harvey would say. We are not confused over the importance which Jesus draws. And we also see the irony in the statement, "you always have the poor with you... but you will not always have me."
The resurrection declares that we do have Jesus with us - right alongside the poor. We have seen his identification with the poor. How do we anoint him today?
Prayer by Mother Teresa of Calcutta:
Who is Jesus to me? Jesus is the Word made Flesh. Jesus is the Bread of Life. Jesus is the Victim offered for our sins on the Cross. Jesus is the Sacrifice at Holy Mass for the sins of the world and mine. Jesus is the Word - to be spoken. Jesus is the Truth - to be told. Jesus is the Way - to be walked. Jesus is the Light - to be lit. Jesus is the Life - to be loved. Jesus is the Joy - to be shared. Jesus is the Sacrifice - to be given. Jesus is the Bread of Life - to be eaten. Jesus is the Hungry - to be fed. Jesus is the Thirsty - to be satiated. Jesus is the Naked - to be clothed. Jesus is the Homeless - to be taken in. Jesus is the Sick - to be healed. Jesus is the Lonely - to be loved. Jesus is the Unwanted - to be wanted. Jesus is the Leper - to wash his wounds. Jesus is the Beggar - to give him a smile. Jesus is the Drunkard - to listen to him. Jesus is the Little One - to embrace him. Jesus is the Dumb - to speak to him. Jesus is the Crippled - to walk with him. Jesus is the Drug Addict - to befriend him. Jesus is the Prostitute - to remove from danger and befriend her. Jesus is the Prisoner - to be visited. Jesus is the Old - to be served.
To me Jesus is my God, Jesus is my Spouse, Jesus is my Life, Jesus is my only Love, Jesus is my All in All, Jesus is my Everything.
Prayer by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, 20th Century
Picture © Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons