Many a cross we bear is of our own manufacture; we made it by our sins. But the cross which the Saviour carried was not his but ours. One beam in contradiction to another beam was the symbol of our will in contradiction to his own. To the women who met him on the roadway, he said: ‘Weep not for me.’ To shed tears for the dying Saviour is to lament the remedy; it were wiser to lament the sin that caused it. If Innocence itself took a Cross, then how shall we who are guilty complain against it?
Fulton J. Sheen The World’s First Love
The Suffering Servant spoken of by the prophet Isaiah in today’s ﬁrst reading has always been understood by the Church as a prophesy which points to and ﬁnds its fulﬁllment in Jesus Christ. He is the chosen one in whom God delights, ﬁlled with his Spirit, who will bring forth God’s justice to the nations. We must always remember that God’s idea of justice is not ours. If it were, we would not be preparing to celebrate the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus, only the condemnation of sinful humanity – there could be no such thing as hope.
Christ, then, is a light to the nations, who will open the eyes of the blind, and free captives from prison, they will be freed from darkness by the light of the World. He frees humanity from the prison of sin, setting us free to have life in all its fullness. He is given as a new covenant in his blood to restore the relationship between humanity and God. In what he is and does we will see God’s Glory: the glory of love and absolute gift: extravagant, risky, costly.
Those people who are forever saying that the Church must sell all its gold and silver need to remember that when they say this they are speaking the words of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Our Lord and Saviour. The care of the poor and the needy is and will always be an important part of the Church, but social justice is not the whole of the Gospel. The Church wears beautiful vestments and uses precious metal because what it is and does is important: we wouldn’t ask people to wear wooden or ceramic wedding rings, after all. No, in today’s Gospel we see a picture of risky and costly generosity in the love and care which Mary shows for Jesus, her Lord and Saviour, which reinforces what Jesus will do for the world on Good Friday: it is the most costly and extravagant gesture there could be, which costs something which money cannot buy, and for the sake of you, and me, and all humanity! In this version of justice the judge sentences himself the death penalty instead of condemned humanity, so that we might be free.
In taking the risk to defy convention, to be costly, risky and extravagant, not caring what the world thinks, putting aside the mundane concerns of Judas, Mary shows what it is to love and follow Jesus. She responds to the source of all love and generosity by preparing Him for his death and burial. She anticipates the act of generous love and shows the Church how it too should take risks and be extravagant in its service of Our Lord and Saviour, so that we too may share in his work of reconciling and healing humanity, anointing it with the love of God.
The religious authorities are troubled by what has gone on: they see people following Jesus as a threat to their own power and control and they want to stop this at all costs. They stand for fear and hatred and dominance, as opposed to the freedom, and love, and new life of the Gospel. They cannot put a stop to the movement: the more they persecute the stronger it becomes because it trusts in the God who loves and who saves. It is a lesson which the repressive regimes of this world have yet to learn in the past two thousand years. It is a light which cannot be extinguished, a love which casts out fear whereby we are freed to serve the God who loves us and saves us.
Let us rejoice in this as we are fed by Word and Sacrament, strengthened to live God’s life in the world, proclaiming his truth and his victory, so that all humanity may believe and praise God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, to whom be ascribed as is most right and just, all might, majesty, glory dominion and power, now and forever