The Gospel from today’s Mass (John 12:1-11) describes an erie look into Christ’s reaction to good and evil:

[1] Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Laz’arus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. [2] There they made him a supper; Martha served, and Laz’arus was one of those at table with him.  [3] Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. [4] But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said,  [5] “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” [6] This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it. [7] Jesus said, “Let her alone, let her keep it for the day of my burial. [8] The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” [9] When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came, not only on account of Jesus but also to see Laz’arus, whom he had raised from the dead. [10] So the chief priests planned to put Laz’arus also to death, [11] because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

This passage the precedes the Passion has much to teach us regarding good and evil:

  • Recall, Jesus has recently raised Lazarus from the dead, a prefigurement of His own death and resurrection that is only 6 days away.
  • Now fully revived to human life, and no longer “stinking” from the stench of death (John 11:39), Lazarus is hosting Jesus for a meal; Martha ever working and Mary ever reverent are there too.
  • It must have been a very strange meal, for Mary takes very expensive oil and anoints Jesus’ feet and then wipes His feet with her hair.
  • Stop there:  in our lives today, can we imagine such an act of humility and love?  To be there must have been astounding.  Mary, the perfect humble dove of love. Certainly, like the Holy Spirit who is at the Baptism in the form of a dove, the Holy Spirit is moving Mary’s heart to such devotion.
  • Perhaps Mary, and all there, realize that Jesus is going to be killed when she anoints His feet.  But after the conflict with Judas, many there would have a sickening suspicion that Jesus was preparing for death.
  • Everyone but Judas, of course.  The Satanic snake is already coiling around Judas; his greed and jealousy is taking hold of him; Judas is blind to both the simple act of love and the greater drama of the coming Passion.  We can’t know for sure when Judas begins thinking about betrayal of Jesus, but certainly this is a pivotal step.

Jesus realizes what is coming.  In the face of His own coming death, Jesus calmly observes both the good of Mary and the evil of Judas, letting each choose their path.

It is the same for us; are we doves or snakes?  Jesus knows.