Monday, 18 March 2013

Reflection for Lent 5 (Passion Sunday)

John's account of Mary of Bethany anointing Jesus' feet presents us with a profound contrast. On the one hand we have Mary - lavish, extravagent, out of control for the sake of love. On the other we have Judas who, whatever his motivations (on which the evangelist has a particular spin), is the voice of restrained, sensible, pragmatism - think of the consequences, we can imagine him saying, the resources used to anoint Jesus could have been put to better use, for lasting effect. The Judas whose voice we hear in this gospel reading is a familiar figure in our society, in our churches, and in our selves - he is present whenever love, which by its very nature always wants to exceed itself, is held back in a supposedly higher cause.

Mary, says Jesus chillingly, has anointed him for his burial.Today's gospel looks forward to the Cross, the point at which love comes into ultimate opposition with its opponents, what the evangelist calls 'the World'. The outcome of the ensuing struggle is made clear on Easter morning. As we participate sacramentally in Jesus' passion and resurrection in the next fortnight a question is addressed to us: which side are you on?

The demand of the gospel is clear. We have to side with love.

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