Monday in Holy Week: the calm before the storm

Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. “But not during the festival,” they said, “or the people may riot.”

While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

One could have just as easily and perhaps more accurately entitled this post: “the gathering clouds.” Things seemed well set in place and only exacerbated given the very recent miracle of Jesus bringing his friend Lazarus back from the dead.  But the disciples of our Lord were more or less used to that. And definitely our Lord himself, who faced danger right from the beginning of his ministry, given the supposed blasphemous pretense of his claims. And yet at this point it was all coming to a head, to the fixed point that God himself intended.

The story quoted above about the woman pouring expensive perfume on the Lord’s head is touching. Jesus said that it anticipated his death, more precisely preparing for his burial. And this act set what was to follow in motion, as Judas Iscariot went off to the Jewish believers to arrange Jesus’ betrayal.


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