Today’s gospel sets the stage for Holy Week. John tells us that six days before the Passover, Jesus returned to Bethany – home of his dear friends, Martha, Mary and Lazarus, who was the Lord’s greatest miracle so far. “They gave a dinner for him there (John 12:2).” Some dinner that must have been! How could Lazarus not view his friend differently after what happened at the tomb? Surely, nothing was beyond the rabbi’s power to redeem – not sickness, not sin, not even death. What did Lazarus share with Jesus about the experience of death? Did Jesus want to know what lay ahead of him in Jerusalem? Were the events before and ahead too much for words? Perhaps, they drank wine together and talked of nothing, as only real friends can?
What about the sisters? Martha, we’re told, is preparing the meal. No grumbling this time – a sure and certain sign of the reign of God breaking through! And Mary – dear, Mary – she is again at the Lord’s feet but this time she is anointing them with expensive perfumed oil. In this tender act she anticipates both his kingship and impending death. It is six days before the Passover. He is going to Jerusalem – a city renowned for killing its prophets. This dinner is the last they will share with him at their home in Bethany. Many have suggested that Jesus’ friends in Bethany were his respite from the road – his resting place when the unrelenting preaching and healing sapped his strength. What better place to dine before the journey? What better company than those who just loved him? A few moments of rest…some home-cooking…some laughter among friends – surely, one night of peace is not too much to ask. Yet, poor Judas had to pick a fight with Mary over the expensive oil – his greed not benevolence operative in the exchange. Poor Judas…he, too, will have the worst week of his life.
There is so much in this tiny gospel that points to the holy days ahead. If Martha, Mary and Lazarus knew what we know, they would never have let Jesus go. Or maybe, they did know and that’s why this meal was so important to all of them – so important that no expense was spared, no pettiness allowed to displace the simple goodness of being with him. May this Holy Week bring all of us to the house at Bethany – the house where Love has come and nothing else matters.
Blessngs and love to you all...
- Sister Vicki