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Lenten Reflection: Day 41

Gospel, John 12:1-11

While Martha was serving, Mary anointed the Lord with ointment, thus accomplishing her love towards Him; and by the actions of both, the measure of love was filled up and made perfect. The traitor rebukes the woman who had shown her devotion towards Christ, and attacks the admirable deed, and affects to blame it out of love towards the poor, because ointment was brought and not money. But it was out of ignorance as to what is really excellent that Judas said this. For the bringing of presents unto God ought to be honoured more than the poor. For, He says, love for the poor is very praiseworthy, only let it be put after veneration of God.

And what He says amounts to this: The time, He says, which has been appointed for My being honoured, that is to say, the time of My sojourn on earth, does not require that the poor should be honoured before Me. And this He said with reference to the Incarnation. He does not however in any way forbid the sympathetic person to exercise his love towards the poor. Therefore when there is need of service or of singing, these must be honoured before love towards the poor; for it is possible to do good after the spiritual services are over. He says therefore that it is not necessary always without intermission to devote our time to honouring Himself, or to spend everything upon the priestly service, but to lay out the greatest part upon the poor.

Mary annointing Jesus feet

For after the Ascension of the Saviour, when they were no longer following their Master on His journeys, but had leisure; then they eagerly spent all the offerings that were brought to them upon the poor. Through the strangeness of the sign the multitude are astonished; and that which they heard to have been done they wished also to behold with their eyes, that they might believe it more confidently. And they not only wished to see Lazarus, but also the Christ, the doer of the sign; not then seeing Him for the first time, for they had often seen Him and accompanied with Him; but inasmuch as He had gone into retirement, that He might not suffer before the proper time, they were seeking again to see Him: and the more reasonable among them even admired Him, as they recognised no fault in Him. With a settled purpose therefore the Lord did not immediately enter into Jerusalem, but remained outside, in order that by the report [which would reach the city] He might draw the common people to a desire of wishing to see Him.

See now how frantic the rulers seem to become, wildly rushing hither and thither under the influence of their envy, and saying nothing coherently. They seriously meditate murder upon murder, thinking to remove the force of the miraculous deed at the same time with their victim, that they might stop the people running to believe Christ.

The above is an excerpt of St. Cyril of Alexandria’s homiletic Commentary on today’s Gospel reading.

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