Monday, 3 April 2023 : Monday of Holy Week (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, each and every one of us are brought ever deeper into the mysteries and the details of Our Lord’s Passion, His suffering and trials, leading up to His death on the Cross which we are going to commemorate soon on Good Friday during the Easter Triduum. Hence, on this day, all of us are reminded yet again of everything that God had done for our sake, all the love that He has shown us through His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, in showing His kindness and love so wonderfully to us sinners who are in need of His help and healing. We are reminded that God loves each and every one of us, even no matter how great our sins have been. As long as we come to Him with contrite hearts and endeavour to turn away from our sinful path and way of life, there is a way for us to be reconciled with Him.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Isaiah in which we listened to the proclamation about a certain Chosen One Whom God had appointed to be the One to bear His salvation and deliverance to the nations. We have heard how the Lord revealed His truth to the nations, of His love and compassion towards them, that He has sent into our midst His Servant, the One Who would be crushed and persecuted for us, to suffer and even die for our sake. This is the same Messiah that the prophets and messengers of the Lord have been prophesying about and which they had promised and proclaimed for many ages. The Lord has willingly sent His salvation into our midst, in the form of His own Beloved Son, born into this world and taking up our own human existence such that by His coming into this world, He may reunite us with God, our loving Father and Creator.

That is what the Lord has done, by reaching out to us, coming down to dwell among us, so that all of us sinners may find our consolation and help through Him, as we are reminded yet again of His love and faithfulness to the Covenant that He has made and renewed again and again with us. God has never forgotten about His people and He has reached out to them, every time they had faltered and fallen into sin. He reminded them of His ever patient and most generous love, and called on them to reject the path of sin and disobedience. Through His Son, God made us all partakers of a New and Eternal Covenant sealed by the breaking of His own Most Precious Body and by the shedding and outpouring of His own Most Precious Blood, broken and poured out for us and our salvation, as the most worthy offering made on the Altar of the Cross, at Calvary.

In our Gospel passage today, taken from the Gospel of St. John, we heard of the curious moment when Mary, the sister of Lazarus, came to the Lord at a dinner, and anointed His feet with an expensive perfume made from pure spikenard, which cost quite a fortune back then. She poured the perfume on the Lord’s feet and with tears and her hair, she wiped the Lord’s feet with them. This was then criticised immediately by Judas Iscariot, the traitor among the Lord’s disciples. The writer of the Gospel, St. John the Apostle gave the explanation and the context that Judas Iscariot, being the one entrusted as the treasurer of the Lord’s group, had not been honest and upright in his actions, as he often stole from the common fund that had been assembled by the disciples, which should have been used to support their work and ministry. Judas Iscariot evidently loved money and continued to be dishonest in his actions.

When he criticised Mary, saying that the perfume should not have been wasted in such a manner and could have been sold for the proceeds to be given to the poor, as we heard, it was showing us the extent of how humanity has both the capacity to disobey and sin against God, as well as the capacity for repentance and forgiveness. In Judas Iscariot, we saw how man may easily succumb to the temptations of worldly desires and attachments, to wealth, glory, fame, human praise, pleasures of all sorts and many other things that often kept us away from the Lord and His grace. Judas Iscariot allowed his love and desire for money to delude him and to allow him to be tempted by the devil, allowing Satan to enter into his heart and persuade him to not only say such vile words against Mary, but also later on to betray the Lord for a sum of thirty pieces of silver, to the chief priests and the other enemies of the Lord.

On the contrary, we saw Mary’s humility and sincerity in loving the Lord, and in humbling herself such that she gave her best to glorify Him, by using her own hair, the crown of her beauty and worldly glory, to wipe His feet, the feet being usually associated as the dirtiest and most unfavourable part of the human body. Yet, Mary had no qualm at all of doing such an action before everyone assembled, shedding herself of all honour and glory in doing so, and using her best perfume in giving glory to God. As the Lord Himself mentioned, this was a prefigurement of His Passion, His suffering and death, and how she was anointing Him and preparing His Body for burial. But Mary also prefigured the Lord in a more subtle way, as her actions showed what the Lord Himself would do, first at the Last Supper, in humbling Himself to wash the feet of His disciples, and then later on, to humble Himself and empty Himself of all honour and glory, to suffer and die for us on the Cross, for our salvation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through what we have heard in our Scripture readings today, all of us are reminded first of all, of God’s ever enduring and patient love for us, which we should always keep in mind throughout this most solemn week commemorating our Lord’s Passion, His suffering and death. It was for our sake that He has willingly suffered all of that, so that by everything that He had to go through, He might deliver us from our fate of destruction and death, and offer us the sure path to eternal life through Him. Then, we are also reminded of the need for us to listen to the Lord and His patient calling for us to embrace His love and mercy, as we are all called to be humble like Mary, the sister of Lazarus, in realising our sinfulness and unworthiness before God, and in obeying the will of God like the Lord Jesus Himself, Who obeyed the Father’s will so perfectly, for our salvation. Let us also distance ourselves from the dangers of pride and worldly temptations, that we do not fall into the same trap as Judas Iscariot had experienced.

May the Lord continue to help us in our journey of faith and life, especially throughout this season of Lent and this most solemn time of the Holy Week. May He continue to strengthen each and every one of us and help us to persevere through the many hardships, trials and challenges that we may have to face daily in life. May God bless each and every one of us and help us all to be ever more faithful and committed in our lives, in following Him at all times. Amen.

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