Monday of Holy Week. Our first reading today is from Isaiah 42 – the beginning of the Servant of the Lord prophesies. “Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my Spirit.” As we read these words, we recall how they describe Jesus to a tee. “A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench.” We are that bruised reed, we are that smoldering wick.
In the Gospel reading today from John 12, we see Jesus having dinner at the home of Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus. Mary begins to anoint the feet of Jesus with some very costly perfumed oil. She then dries them with her hair. Judas asks, “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” It seems like a legitimate question, doesn’t it? But Jesus says, “Leave her alone…you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” Mary’s gift was a very personal gift to the Lord.
Many today have a similar objection with the Catholic Church. “Why do you have such ornate churches? Can’t you sell that beautiful artwork and give the money to the poor?” There are many gifts that we can give to the Lord. When we give to the poor, that is, indeed, a blessing. But beautiful buildings, artwork, statues and even functional things also have a place in the Kingdom. They, too, bless others. These things of beauty have been given as gifts. They help lift out thoughts heavenward. We must always be sure that our gifts are prayerfully given, and used for the benefit of the Kingdom.
Father, help us to be generous to your people and to your Church. Give us good discernment as to how to best use our resources, always for the benefit of the Kingdom. Amen.
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