Monday in Holy Week


Station at St. Praxedes

Monday in Holy Week

EPISTLE (Isai. L. 5-10.) In those days, Isaias said: The Lord God hath opened my ear, and I do not resist: I have not gone back. I have given my body to the strikers, and my cheeks to them that plucked them: I have not turned away my face from them that rebuked me, and spit upon me. The Lord God is my helper, therefore am I not confounded: therefore have I set my face as a most hard rock, and I know that I shall not be confounded. He is near that justifieth me, who will contend with me? Let us stand together, who is my adversary? Let him come near to me. Behold the, Lord God is my helper: who is he that shall condemn me? Lo they shall all be destroyed as a garment, the moth shall eat them up. Who is there among you that feareth the Lord, that heareth the voice of his servant? Let him that hath walked in darkness, and bath no light, hope in the name of the Lord, and lean upon his God.

EXPLANATION All the holy Fathers agree that Isaias here prophesies of Christ, who in accordance with His Father's will, gave Himself up without uttering one word of complaint to the most, ignominious sufferings for us, and strengthened by divine assistance, patiently submitted to all the blows, torments, and insults of His enemies. But they did not escape just punishment, for their guilty consciences devoured them interiorly, as a moth consumes a garment, and the memory of them disappeared from the earth. Let us put our trust in God, if, with Christ, we are surrounded by sufferings and distress, finding no help, for He will be our Redeemer and our Helper.

GOSPEL (John XII. 1-9.) Now Jesus, six days before the Pasch, came to Bethania, where Lazarus had been dead, whom Jesus raised to life. And they made him a supper there: and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of them that were at table with him. Mary therefore took a pound of ointment of right spikenard, of great price, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment. Then one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, he that was about to betray him said: Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? Now he said this, not because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and having the purse, carried the things that were put therein.

Jesus therefore said: Let her alone, that she may keep it against the day of my burial, for the poor you have always with you: but me you have not always. A great multitude therefore of the Jews knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus's sake only, but that they might see Lazarus, whom he, had raised from the dead.

INSTRUCTION We should also, like Mary Magdalen, anoint the Saviour by diligently performing good works, and thus become, as the holy Apostle says, a good odor unto Christ. (II Cor. II. 15.) The conduct of the traitor Judas should serve us as a warning not to be carried away by attachment to temporal riches, to avarice, and by it to greater crimes. Judas did not become a great sinner at once, he loved money and so grew cold to the love of God; seduced by avarice, he became a miser, a traitor to his Master and a suicide. Strive, therefore, to suppress your evil inclinations at the moment of their commencement, that they may not bring you into sin, and render you miserable like Judas.

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Then Jesus, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom Jesus raised from the dead. And so on, and that which followeth. John: 12, 1-9
A Homily by St. Augustine the Bishop

Lest men should deem that it was but by an ocular delusion that they had seen him arise from the dead, Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table. He lived therefore, spake, and ate; to the manifestation of the truth, and the confusion of the unbelieving Jews. Jesus, then, sat down to meat with Lazarus and others, and Martha, being one of Lazarus' sisters, served. But Mary, Lazarus' other sister, took a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. We have now heard that which was done; let us search out the mystic meaning thereof.

Whosoever thou art that wilt be a faithful soul, seek with Mary to anoint the feet of the Lord with costly ointment. This ointment was a figure of justice, and therefore is said to have been a pound thereof. The word Pistikes used by the Evangelist as the name of this ointment, we must believe to be that of some place, from which this costly perfume was imported. Neither is this name meaningless for us, but agreeth well with our mystic interpretation, since Pístis is the Greek word which signifieth Faith, and whosoever will do justice must know that the just shall live by faith. Anoint therefore, the feet of Jesus by thy good life, following in the marks which those feet of the Lord have traced. Wipe his feet likewise with thy hair; that is, if thou have aught which is not needful to thee, give it to the poor; and then thou hast wiped the feet of Jesus with thy hair, that is, with that which thou needest not, and which is therefore to thee as is hair, being a needless out-growth to the body. Here thou hast what to do with that which thou needest not. To thee it is needless, but the Lord's feet have need of it; yea, the feet which the Lord hath on earth are sorely needy.

For of whom save of his members, will he say at the latter day: Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. That is, ye have spent nothing save that which ye needed not, but ye have ministered unto my feet. And the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. That is, the fragrance of your good example filleth the world; for this odour is a figure of reputation. They which are called Christians, and yet live bad lives, cast a slur on Christ: and it is even such as they unto whom it is said: The Name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you. But if, through such, the Name of God be blasphemed, through the godly is praise ascribed to the Same his Holy Name, as the Apostle doth likewise say: In every place we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ.