The Palm Sunday Gospel, the story of Jesus’ Passion, begins with the a clear example of the difference between the true Church and the kind of thing that lurks around today.
When he was in Bethany reclining at table
in the house of Simon the leper,
a woman came with an alabaster jar of perfumed oil,
costly genuine spikenard.
She broke the alabaster jar and poured it on his head.
There were some who were indignant.
“Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil?
It could have been sold for more than three hundred days’ wages
and the money given to the poor.”
They were infuriated with her.
Jesus said, “Let her alone.
Why do you make trouble for her?
She has done a good thing for me.
The poor you will always have with you,
and whenever you wish you can do good to them,
but you will not always have me.
She has done what she could.
She has anticipated anointing my body for burial.
Amen, I say to you,
wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world,
what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
Although this passage doesn’t mention him, the other Gospels indicate Judas was of the opinion that the perfume should have been sold off and given to the poor. He thought it wrong to honor Our Lord in this way.
Judas was jealous. He was embarrassed by the woman and he thought this an ostentatious show. He was materialistic and openly challenged Jesus to make a ‘preferential option for the poor.’
The woman, who may have been St. Mary Magdalene, was focused on Jesus, on his life, his body, and, as Our Lord says, His burial. She was worshiping Him for His own sake and sparing no expense to do it.
Is this woman not like those who love the Holy Mass said in beautiful churches, where we honor God in the way He wants, being present before His sacrifice?
And is Judas not like those who want to make the Mass ‘for the people;’ stripped down, profane, and vulgarized, in ugly utilitarian buildings? Such Christians would replace loving doctrinal obedience to God with simple ‘service’ to others.
Finally, like Judas, those who make the Faith into ‘a Church of the poor and for the poor’ where ‘the poor are the center of the Gospel,’ always seem to be the ones who want to control other people’s money, to enable the state, and participate in their ‘service’ programs. They attack profit and ownership, calling it oppression.
Judas held the money so he felt bold enough to tell even Christ what to do with possessions. Judas also stole from the purse just as governments steal through high taxes, unjust regulations, debt, and inflation; all in the name of ‘the poor’ and service.
In the next passage today at Mass, Judas moves to betray Jesus. Is this not perhaps how our Church is betrayed from within in our day – by materialists and thieves?
In His time Our Lord would not allow Mary’s worship to be denied. Who defends her today in His name?