Happy Holy Week!
The Knights of Columbus was founded on this day, 128 years ago.
On the news this morning, it was reported that the insurance companies are denying children with pre-existing illnesses, even though this portion of “Obamacare” is now being enforced as of today. The reason: It is a new law, so it is not retrograde, and does not include anyone with pre-existing conditions, born before today! Don’t you love laws passed rapidly, and without severe scrutiny?!
Today’s reflection is about Jesus’ dirty feet!?
Quote or Joke of the Day:
“God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission.” –John Henry Cardinal Newman
Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him. 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.” (NAB Jn 12:1-8)
Lazarus, Martha, and Mary were strong friends of Jesus. Jesus’ only time He cried, that I can remember was at the death of Lazarus; but He also performed a sign (miracle) in restoring Lazarus back to life. These three disciples were with Jesus, even at the cross. I believe the “other Mary” at the foot of Jesus’ cross, was this specific Mary.
There are some slight differences in this story, between the three synoptic gospels (see Mk 14:3-9, Mt 26:6-13). In Matthew 26:6, Mary anoints Jesus’ head as a sign of a regal, messianic anointing.
Washing and anointing the feet has a specific message in it, itself. In just a few days, Jesus will, Himself, wash the feet of the Apostles. To the Jewish people, the feet seemed to be the dirtiest part of the body. The feet touch the ground, and were always in contact with dirt, bugs, human and animal excrement and feces, and who knows what else: I don’t believe they had “boots” back then, so the feet got pretty dirty!
To wash someone’s feet was the lowliest of positions one could assume. Mary, and Jesus in a few days, place themselves in this position of the lowest of servants, in order to praise and honor those they serve. This gospel reading alludes to Mary being a true friend and disciple; whereas, Judas appears as a false disciple, and thief. I wonder if Judas would wash anyone’s feet?
Nard was used as a perfume, and as scented oil for burial purposes. It was made from the roots of a plant grown in the mountains of northern India. Nard had to be imported, which was a major factor in its high price. A denarius was a day’s wage, and it took 200 denarius to purchase a liter of nard. So this oil cost the buyer more than a half-year of pay. I wonder if Judas even smelled the fragrance of that perfume that most assuredly filled the house!? A physically sweet smell that accompanied the physical and spiritual presence of God, in your sight!
The poor will always be with you, but I won’t! Jesus made a prophetic statement of fact. Jesus knew what His role on earth was. I think it was apparent He was not happy, and was probably even fearful, about what was going to happen at the end of this week; but He was obedient to His role as our “Savior!” How hard it is to follow in His footsteps! How much He did love us; but to give up His life in a horrible and humiliating way!
“Lord, I wish to wash your feet. I am giving my “self” to you, to use as you will. I am your servant for you to do with as you wish. Please allow me to work through you to save others. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
Catholic Saint of the Day: St. Berthold
Considered by some historians to be the founder of the Carmelite Order. He was born in Limoges, France, and proved a brilliant student at the University of Paris. Ordained a priest, Berthold joined his brother, Aymeric, the Latin patriarch of Antioch, in Turkey, on the Crusades. On Mount Carmel he found a group of hermits, joined them, and established a rule. Aymeric appointed Berthold the first Carmelite superior general. Berthold tried to reform the Christian soldiers in the region, having had a vision of Christ, and headed the Carmelites for forty-five years. Feast day is March 29th.
(From http://www.catholic.org/saints/ website)
Prologue to Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule, Chapter 1:
… Oh, how glorious it is to have a great and Holy Father in heaven! Oh, how glorious it is to have such a beautiful and admirable Spouse, the Holy Paraclete.
Oh, how glorious it is to have such a Brother and such a Son, loved, beloved, humble, peaceful, sweet, lovable, and desirable above all: Our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave up his life for his sheep (cf. Jn 10:15) and prayed to the Father saying: …