FRIENDS OF CHRIST
Holy Week is here.
This Lent seems inordinately short, and yet, at the same time, it feels like we've been in "Lent" for a very long time. In Wyoming, the snow is finally beginning to melt, and we've had a few warmer days with sunshine. Those days are usually quickly replaced by another cloudy, snowy day, and we are reminded that Spring isn't quite ready to take hold.
In today's Gospel, it is six days before the Passover. Jesus has gone to Bethany to be with his friends, Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. These are Jesus's last days. Jesus knows, and perhaps in some ways, His friends know too that their time together is limited. While Martha lovingly prepares dinner for them, Mary anoints Jesus's feet with costly oil. Much attention is paid to the gift of the oil, to Mary "wasting" such expensive oils on Jesus's feet. But I am always the chef, crafting new and exciting dishes in my little kitchen to present to my loved ones, so I relate with Martha. I imagine her thinking of her best dishes to prepare for their evening together, going out to the market to collect the finest ingredients. No, she doesn't recline with Him as the risen Lazarus does, listening to His stories. Remember, Jesus is not teaching tonight. He is enjoying an evening meal with His friends. And Martha doesn't anoint Him with oil as Mary does. She offers our Lord something different; she serves.
All three of Jesus's friends express their love for Him on this, their last evening together. Each in their own way. Mary's heart is so full that she cannot contain pouring out her love, her most valuable gift, over his feet. The beautiful scent fills the house, mingling with Martha's gift. Lazarus, reclining at table with our Lord, enjoys the simple pleasure of being in His presence. Each of these three teaches us how to love the Lord. One is not more perfect; they complement one another. Just as we, the body of Christ, bring our gifts before the Lord.
Our Lent is finally receding. Whether you feel Lent has been long or short, whether you feel Lent has been filled with spiritual growth or many distractions, Easter is coming. Prepare your hearts. If you are a Mary, you might be sitting with your coffee and scripture. If you are a Martha, you might be decorating the Church for the Triduum or cooking a meal for someone who needs it. If you are a Lazarus, you might be sitting before the Blessed Sacrament in adoration. It is not how we love the Lord; it is that we chose to love the Lord in every day and in every action. Easter is coming; make your preparations.