Devotion: A Passion Week Pilgrimage- Holy Monday
April 7, 2020
Devotion provided by Rev. Bob Symanski
Holy Monday April 6, 2020
God of steadfast love,
light of the blind and liberator of the oppressed,
we see your holy purpose in the tender compassion of Jesus,
who calls us into new and living friendship with you.
May we be filled with the grace of his tender caring;
may we see your glory in the light of his self-giving. Amen.
Scripture John 12.1-8 nrsv
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?" (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.)
Jesus said, "Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me."
Extravagance. Judas considers Mary’s actions excessive, impractical; a waste of money it would have taken a manual laborer a year to earn, money which could have been better used helping the poor. That Judas’ motives are less-than-wholesome will be found out later.
Mary is exceedingly grateful to Jesus for bringing her beloved brother Lazarus back to life, and for his good news of God’s love for all people and especially those society looked down upon. She demonstrates her appreciation with extravagant acts of adoration, sacrifice, and self-mortification – not only lavishing costly perfume (on Jesus’ feet, no less) but working it in with her own hair. Mary seems to know she will not always have such an opportunity to express the fullness of her gratitude.
Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. The health professions have long employed elaborate techniques and materials to prevent infection and preserve life, and this diligence makes healthcare more painstaking and costly. But lives are saved, and illnesses and complications are lessened, so the efforts are consider worthwhile.
These days we find ourselves taking many extreme measures, and being asked to endure many inconveniences and sacrifices. But we do the excessive if it means protecting our neighbors and ourselves from a dangerous contagion. Faith and morals tell us the wellbeing of others is worth our extra effort.
This Biblical episode is not only about the extravagance of a grateful follower. It also reflects Jesus’ submission to death and subsequent resurrection as extraordinary measures of extravagant grace. It may strike us as wasteful and impractical, when Jesus could seem more useful alive as a healer, teacher, and leader of his movement. But more significant is that Jesus holds back nothing to right humanity’s relationship with God.
Invitation to Prayer
Please pray for:
- the growing number of persons with COVID-19, other infectious diseases, and severe illnesses;
- persons working in the healthcare industry;
- local, national and world leaders enacting public policies to address the health crisis;
- patience, strength, peace to endure the sacrifices we make for the safety and well-being of others;
- for the effectiveness of our efforts to slow disease spread, to treat the ill, and bring about the swiftest end to this pandemic.
What is hardest for you to do without during the emergency? What extravagant measures are you resolved to endure?