Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said,
“Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?”
He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag
and used to steal the contributions.
The last time I prayed this passage was during an eight-day retreat. Then, Mary had turned to me and had invited me to come forward and help her anoint Jesus’ feet. I still remember rubbing his feet, and then rubbing his hands as well. The color and texture of his skin, the feel of his bony feet and hands, our closeness and my reverence. Mary’s invitation had been such a gift! A day later, when time came to pray the Resurrection, my eyes fell again on the same hands and feet; this time they had a hole in them. I knew then that I was in presence of the Risen One.
This morning, I started reading the passage after having prayed for the grace of being filled with the wonder of Jesus’ presence. Imagine my surprise when going over Judas’ lines, I realized that they were meant for me. I could have made such an unpleasant remark. I would have had to feel jealous and envious, and irritated at being around someone who once again is so much better than I am… Yes, this is something which I could have said, the type of comment I have most certainly made several times over my lifetime.
This insight felt like a jug of freezing water thrown at my face. At the same time, what a relief to come upon this side of me, so naturally and so ‘un-judgmental-ly’ (if this is possible). While shocked by my own revealed pettiness, I felt grateful for the awareness. This was a grace received, a gift, a reflection from the mirror that the Gospel is meant to be. The Gospel is “a constant call to freedom,” writes Ilia Delio.
As I stand looking at the scene of Mary on her knees at Jesus’ feet, with the other disciples and friends around the table, Martha busying herself, and Judas’ nasty remark, Jesus’ eyes cross mine. I tear up. I tear up because I acknowledge the love in his eyes, the unconditional love which greets me; I recognize the gift of discovering a bit more of me; but more than anything else, I tear up for the connection between the scene and me, between Jesus and me.
For all this, O Godde, I feel infinitely grateful.
Art: Magdelene Anointing Jesus’ Feet, Frank Wesley (1923-2002) an Indian artist trained in India, Japan, and the U.S. Best known for designing the urn for Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes. Found here.