Judas’ selfishness and greed is juxtaposed in the gospel with the selflessness and loving devotion of Mary who as custom was for the traveller on entering a house, washed Jesus’ feet. But instead of water she used an expensive ointment and lavished it upon her Master’s feet, and then dried them caringly and tenderly with her hair. She showed Judas and to the whole world what true friendship is, “to give and not to count the cost … to labour and not to ask for any reward”. St. John tells us that Judas quibbled over this lavish gesture of Mary, intimating that his love of money and his greed had become such heinous sins that they were eating into his soul. When these sins go unrepented, they become cancerous and if untreated will kill the soul as illustrated in Judas.
Andrewes in his 1593 Lenten sermon contrasted the difference of living lovingly for Christ or lovingly to self as he compared Mary and Judas.
…for she did not drop but pour; not a dram or two, but a whole pound; not reserving any, but breaking box and all; and that not now alone, but three several times, one after another.
This she did; and, as it may seem, the coherence fell out not amiss. This outward ointment and sweet odour she bestowed on Christ for the oil of gladness, or the spiritual anointing (as St. John) and the comfortable savour of His knowledge (as St. Paul calls it), He bestowed on her.
This, as it was well done, so was it well taken of Christ; and so should have been of all present but for Judas, says St. John. Who, liking better odorem lucri ex re qualibet than any scent in the apothecary’s shop, seeing that spent on Christ’s head that he wished should come into his own purse, repined at it.
This Holy Wednesday we have before us two options: the selfless loving and caring of Mary towards her dear Master and Lord, and the selfishness and greed of Judas who used Jesus for his own ends. Friendship as I said implies trust, and when we make a person a friend it means we love that person, despite what. From that moment we always try to think and anticipate their needs before ours; we desire the best for them. Yet how often have we been a Judas rather than a Mary and let a friend down? How often have we simply used another person, hoping that we might gain something from it? Sometimes we might even do this unconsciously. We do have to keep examining our motives so that we are not exploiting another human being. Ideally in a Christian community, the corporate body of Christ to which all the baptized belong, we share and gladly share our gifts, talents and personalities with our brothers and sisters. In this kind of community the self is fused with the core so that in the sharing of life the self is always part of the whole; it can never be separated from it because the influences, beliefs, and personalities of others are absorbed by one and mingle with one’s own. With such Christian sharing one forgets or ignores what was originally his or hers, if ever that were the case!
Our Lord commended what Mary did, and He must have agonized over Judas’ deed, especially in the light of His teaching to His disciples that “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (Jn.15.13). Even after betraying our Lord, Judas committed a greater wrong in being unrepentant of his deed, and died in a state of hell, that is, without Love. He was not there to greet the Risen Lord on Easter morn, but Mary was? Will we? (by Marian Dorman)
Wednesday of Holy Week – anointing Christ’s feet
April 20, 2011 by joyfulpapist