Holy Week – Monday

The Gospel text for today is John 12: 1-11. This is one of three places where Jesus famously says “the poor you will always have with you.”  The main difference here is that according to John, it is Judas who questions Jesus allowing Mary to anoint his feet with costly oil.  Matthew attributes the challenge to “the disciples,” and Mark to “some of those present.”

On this, the day after Palm Sunday, we have Judas questioning Jesus.  It is supposed to be easy to pick sides, right?  When in doubt, side with Jesus, right?

But according to John, Judas thinks there is better use for the money that bought this perfume.  Matthew seconds this thought on behalf of the disciples, and Mark a generic “some.”

Sunday, yesterday, everyone was for Jesus. Waving palms, laying cloaks over the royal path, shouting Hosanna! This Friday, of course, when we remember the trial and crucifixion, Jesus is abandoned.  Today’s reading is interestnig in that we are challenged not to side with Jesus either.

It is tempting today, isn’t it, to question such elaborate, wasteful extravagance?

No simple solutions today; just this thought on our way to the cross and tomb: do you, do I, always side with Jesus?  Or do we sometimes find ourselves making pretty good arguments against him?

6 thoughts on “Holy Week – Monday

  1. Do we have to abstract and generalize from everything Jesus said?

    John goes on to add that Judas’ concern was not with the poor, but with the contents of the money bag. I might learn (a) that when one argues on the side of the poor, one ought to be honest in ones performance. Or, I might learn (b), sometimes when people’s words sound like they are in favor of helping the poor, their motives might actually be something else.

    If I learn (b), I might also learn that someone who in a moment might sound callous toward the poor (Jesus, apparently), might not actually be so.

  2. I’m sorry if I left either the impression that Jesus is calloused toward the poor, or that I want to abstract from “everything” Jesus said.

    There is (I think) plenty out there to help understand Jesus’ perspective here. I thought I would take a different tack.

    I wanted here to challenge that “Sunday School” presumption that we would always agree with Jesus,

  3. Don’t mind me. I’m just argumentative sometimes.

    While some of the folks I’m around maintain that “Sunday School Presumption,” others of another sort figure Jesus is only right if he happens to agree with them.

    My deeper thought is, What does it mean to agree with Jesus? That’s not an idiom I’m used to using.

  4. What does it mean to agree with Jesus? Good question!

    We’d all expect Jesus to refuse anointing, right, in favor of helping the poor. Yet, Since Jesus doesn’t do this, though I cannot accept that he is opposed to helping the poor, agreement with him (in this case) pulls us beyond the dichotomy of “I’ll give either to Jesus or to the poor.”

  5. Why would we expect Jesus to refuse anointing? Personally if someone came to me offering to rub oil or perfume on me, I’d think it was pretty yucky. But then we might think, hmmm, we call him Jesus CHRIST; Christ means “anointed one,” so we’d expect him to receive anointing.

    Now if our primary socialization is in some form of modernity (where we know by some means that we ought to be concerned for the poor) rather than the Christian narrative, then our first thought might be, “Anointing, no, poor, yes.”

    I guess I’m coming at it from a different angle than you.

  6. The disciples were not righteously asserting that the poor should be helped. John clarifies that Judas did not care for the poor and would steal from the common purse, Matthew says they are indignant, Mark speaks of them reacting indignantly and harshly. Not very Jesus-ish.

    So were they feeling like rock stars hanging with Jesus & feeling cocky?

    It would be pretty Jesus-y to turn that right around on them.

    I’ve heard people use “the poor you will always have with you” as a rationale for not being concerned about helping those in need.

    I’ve heard people create resentment and bitterness by stressing the failure of others to extend what they may see as the right amount of help to the poor.

    Siding with the disciples here reduces all gifts to an economic equation, reduces all expressions of love to misspent opportunities. In that light, the widow’s coins wouldn’t have been worth as much as giving from the rich’s excess.

    My choices certainly fall far short of Jesus’ teachings & example. I think it can be overwhelming if we constantly measure ourselves against Him. But as a friend of mine once said, “I’m not yet the man I want to be, but I am further along than the man I was.”

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