Readings and Reflection for April 11 (Monday of Holy Week)

Assumption University

A Delightful Lenten Journey

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The real value

A poor man came to Rabbi Jacob’s door. There was no money in the house, so the rabbi gave him a ring. A moment later, his wife heard of it and reproached him for giving away such a valuable item to an unknown beggar. Rabbi Jacob had the poor man called back and said to him: “I have just learned that the ring I gave you is of great value. Be careful not to sell it for too little money!”


Today’s Gospel shows us what is the real value of a thing and ultimately the real value of a person. Six days before Passover, a banquet was held for Jesus. During the dinner, Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with a perfumed oil of great value. It was a generous gesture on Mary’s part. She wanted to honor Jesus. She placed the personal presence of Jesus above everything. Her value system turns around the person not around the object.

More than merchandise

For his part, Judas saw in this gesture a pure waste. He put the value of merchandise above that of the person of his master. Being a real disciple of Jesus, Mary recognized that he deserved more than any precious thing in the world, more than any costly perfumed oil made of human hands. As a betrayer of Jesus, however, Judas cried not over his master who would die, but over the loss of money. Even his intention of charity was viewed from an economic standpoint: sell the oil for three hundred days’ wages to give to the poor.

To be lost in order to be real

Jesus didn’t want to discourage the action of Mary. He knew the real value of his person. He foresaw what would happen to him. He received on his body the perfumed oil in the perspective of his coming death. The funeral rite lost its usual significance when applied to the living person. However, the loss of perfume was not negative. The perfume ceased to be a merchandise and became what it really was, a vehicle for fragrance. It was really a perfume when it evaporated from the body. Here, the loss of perfume could refer to the loss of the body. As the perfume found its genuine value when it evaporated, the loss of the body of Jesus opened a new perspective on real life. Behind death, the light of the resurrection already shone.

During this Holy Week, we are invited to contemplate the real value of our person and of our life. What kind of perfume, what kind of evangelical value would we like to give out so that our family, our Church, and our society could be filled with good fragrance? A gift of life does not mean a loss of life. A gift is a gift when it is given, freely.

Prayer: Lord, help us to focus more on what is the real value of our human life.

Resolution: Every day during the Holy Week, give a “free perfume sample” (gesture of tenderness, words of appreciation, thank-you notes) to friends and family members.