Over these past days, the Johannine community (Gospel of John) has been nourishing us in the Liturgy of the Word from the section called, “The Book of Signs” (Jn. 1:19 – 12:50). This section shows Jesus bringing different types of people to believe in him by words and deeds (signs) while at the same time provoking many among “the Jews” to hostility, with the resurrection of Lazarus (cf. Jn. 11:1-45) being the last and greatest sign, which made many of the Jews believe in him and ushered the religious leaders in the subsequent verses and chapters to plot his death. Summarily, the book of signs illustrates the theme of the Prologue (cf. Jn. 1:11): “To his own, he came, yet his own did not accept him.” Our today’s Gospel lesson (cf. John 12:1-11) comes from the last chapter of the Book of Signs and serves as a transition into “The Book of Glory” (cf. Jn. 13:1 – 20:31) which we shall be ushered into as from tomorrow. It is called the book of glory because it records Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection—Jesus’ glorification.
In ushering us into the Book of glory, today’s Gospel demonstrates Mary’s anointing of Jesus’ feet at Bethany with a very costly ointment, which according to Jesus would serve a great value for his imminent death and burial at that time. In Jesus, we see a humble, poor, obedient and selfless ‘Servant of God’ who embraced suffering and death for the salvation of humankind. He is that “Suffering Servant of Yahweh”, foretold in the book of the prophet Isaiah, whose poem we hear in today’s First Reading (cf. Isaiah 42:1-7). He is not a political Messiah, but that “chosen one”, (the Lord’s delight), who does not cry out or shout aloud, or make his voice heard in the streets. He does not break the crushed reed, nor quench the wavering flame; but he is one who has faithfully come to bring true justice to the nations through his passion (suffering, death and resurrection). This truth becomes for us the summary of this Holy Week.
As we journey with Christ in his passion and resurrection this Holy Week, may we come to a fuller realization and appreciation of the supreme love of the Father for the world, who sent His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ to die in order that we might be redeemed. This week is called holy because Christ sanctified it by his death and resurrection. We are, therefore, called to be sanctified in order that we might benefit richly from the graces that flow this period. May the good Lord who is our light and help, the stronghold of our lives as illustrated by the Psalmist [Psalm 26(27):1-3,13-14] grant us the disposition to embrace and participate actively in the activities of this Holy Week, even as it appears more difficult for many at this time of quarantine against COVID-19. Amen.
© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Fatima, Vila Sabrina, São Paulo, Brazil
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