The Gospel Reading is John 12:1-11
Today’s Gospel reading paints the picture of perfect love. It doesn’t calculate, it isn’t afraid nor does it incite fear in others, it does not bind but rather liberates. True love is the stuff of fools some might say, but they could only say so from the outside looking in. It can’t be so long ago, can it, that you spent foolish amounts of money on your beloved? Was it so long ago that the hours passed by as though they were but minutes, and you would give anything for just one more second with your love? Do you still love her (or him) so emphatically? It it still revealed? I recently saw a great movie that focused on marital love and the ways that we need to nurture it so that it may remain alive and growing. The movie is called, “Fire Proof” and I strongly recommend it!
When I first met my wife, Jill, almost ten years ago, she was in college at Sonoma State and I was working at St. Stanislaus Parish School teaching 8th grade. She would come home almost every weekend in her beat up old Chevy mini blazer. She had no business putting that kind of mileage on that car! It was crazy (her mom and dad would both have said so–and maybe did on occasion), but she made the drive anyway because she was in love with yours truly. 🙂 And on more than one occasion, often in the middle of the night, I would do the same, driving from Turlock to Rohnert Park to see my beloved. Not the mileage on the cars, nor the gas money that it took to get there and back could keep us apart. Jill still has a card I made for her one time for Christmas. That’s right, I made it on my computer using Adobe Illustrator. Crazy, right? Well, that’s how love is sometimes. And when you’re in love sometimes you do the most stupid, unexplainable, irresponsible things, and through those things your great love is revealed. Love speaks from the heart–not the head.
John’s gospel today shows this incredible display of love for Jesus, by Mary. She is clearly much in love with the Lord Jesus. She was bound to the slavery of demonic possession and He freed her, gave her a new lease on life, and she was right to make Him her first love in response. As evidence of her love she quite irresponsibly, “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.” You can almost sense that beauty and love in the room as she sacrificed so much for her beloved. Then enters the party pooper, “Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, and the one who would betray him.” Judas notes the obvious reality, THIS STUFF IS WORTH A FORTUNE! WHY ARE YOU WASTING IT ON HIM! You see, Mary was in love and it made perfect sense to sacrifice this incredible gift, and probably more if she had it, for Him. But the Scriptures tell us that Judas was not in love with Jesus, but with money.
Each of us must come to terms with our greatest love. Christian discipleship calls us to make Jesus our ultimate concern. He demands that we choose between the love of the world and all that is in it, and the love of God. The Gospels provide a number of examples:
LK 14:26-27 “If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
LK 14:33 In the same way, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.
MT 10:37 “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
You see, for those who lose themselves in the love of God, our actions might seem crazy to those who love the world. We give generously, beyond measure! We love greatly, even to the point of pain out of great personal and communal sacrifice! We give and do not count the cost…because there simply isn’t any way for it to ever add up. It’s crazy love, and anyone who isn’t in it will never get it.
So Jesus said to Judas, “Leave her alone.” There is nothing more beautiful than foolish love. Each of us sees it and mourns the loss of it to some degree in our own life and in our relationships. We can become too calculating, too concerned about “real life,” begin to bear the burden of responsibility, and will begin to hunker down under the weight of the burdens of the world.
But no so for the one in love with the Lord. Remember the time you first fell in love. Return to it. When was the last time you irresponsibly and senselessly spent time, maybe money on the one you love…just because you can? The world will never have a shortage of worries, don’t let the worries of the world keep you from loving without limits.
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. –1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (N.A.B. translation)