Wherever the Gospel is proclaimed to the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her. A quote directly from the Passion of Jesus that we read in Mark’s Gospel yesterday. Doesn’t ring true for you? Take a look at today’s Gospel then…
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.
Not enough to convince you? Let’s try Matthew’s Gospel…
Now when Jesus was in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster jar of costly perfumed oil, and poured it on his head while he was reclining at table.
So my question to you is what are you going to do for Jesus that you will be remembered for? We will see many examples this week of how we can be remembered – not all of them are positive examples. Let’s explore a few.
Will you be like Mary of Bethany, the example I noted above? Will you pour out all that you have to anoint the body of your Savior?
Will you be like Peter and deny your relationship with Christ?
Will you be like Judas and betray your Savior with a kiss?
Will you be like Caiaphas and be more concerned about your well being and status than that of our Savior’s?
Will you be like Pilate and wash your hands of this whole situation?
Will you be like the Roman guards who beat and spat and mocked an innocent man?
Will you be like Veronica, who wiped the face of Jesus?
There are numerous people we can imitate here. Are you thinking, I’m not like any of these characters of the Passion. I am milenniel separated from this; I wasn’t there; and why do we have to spend so much time reading about this? I hope you don’t feel that way about the Passion of our Lord. On the way to Mass yesterday, Sarah and I listened to Bishop Barron’s homily and he pointed out something that I had never before thought about and now I can’t shake it from my mind. I was part of the Passion – you were part of the Passion. If Christ died on that Cross to forgive all sins past, present and future, then we were all part of the Passion. Mark understood this well and that is why he put this character in the Passion narrative.
And they all left him and fled.
Now a young man followed him
wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body.
They seized him,
but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked.
Bishop Barren explained that much like a Renaissance painter, the “young man” wasn’t anybody at that time, but somebody inserted into the narrative at the time the Gospel was written, but someone inserted into the narrative that could represent anyone throughout time. The linen cloth represented that article of clothing back in that time that people wore when baptized into the Church. That “young man” represented a disciple of the Lord (one who FOLLOWS Christ), who was to baptized but left his cloth behind and ran away from Christ.
So, let me ask one more question. Are you that “young man”, who in the face of trouble with the Church, drops your baptismal gown and flees? Have your sins brought you to a place where you don’t think you’re able to go to Church any longer?
That’s a lot to think about. As I said, that thought hasn’t left my mind since hearing it spoken to me. I mentioned Peter and Judas above. They are great examples of how we can change our lives for Christ. Peter, after denying Christ, ran off and wept bitterly but his story didn’t stop there. He recognized his sin, begged forgiveness from Christ and went on to be the Rock of our Church. He received the gift of the Holy Spirit and died giving his life in witness to the Risen Lord. Judas, on the other hand, realized the wrong he did and instead of professing his wrong and seeking forgiveness, he instead went and hanged himself. Now knowing that it could very well have been you as that “young man” who fled Christ in His time of need, which path will you chose – the path of Peter and reconciliation or the path of Judas?
I pray that you use this week to follow the path of Peter. You are welcome to join us at St. Mary Magdalen in Brentwood to participate in this most holy of weeks in the liturgical year. There will be a service or Mass offered every night this week. Please, if not at St. Mary Magdalen, find a church to go to and experience all that this Holy week offers us.
Do something great for our Lord today – be that young man who followed Christ; be like Peter and seek forgiveness for your sins. Experience Holy Week live and in the flesh.
I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy Grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.
God’s will, not mine, be done.
Be not afraid; just have faith.
Jesus, I trust in You.
He must increase; I must decrease.
Lord, if you wish, You can make me clean.
But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness. Compete well for the faith.