Gospel Reading: Jn 12:1-11
Today the liturgy presents two noteworthy characters who play dissimilar roles in the Lord’s passion. One fills us with solace and comfort; the other with uneasiness and wholesome fear. Their juxtaposition produces a powerful effect by way of contrast. The two characters are Mary of Bethany and Judas.
Jesus is in the house of Lazarus, at dinner. Mary approaches, anoints the feet of her Savior for His burial and dries them with her hair. Judas resents her action and resolves upon his evil course. These two persons typify man’s relation to Christ. He gives His Body to two types of individuals: to Magdalenes to be anointed, to Judases to be kissed; to good persons who repay Him with love and service, to foes who crucify Him. How movingly this is expressed in the Lesson: “I gave My body to those who beat Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked them. I did not turn away My face from those who cursed and spit upon Me.”
The same must hold true of His mystical Body. Down through the ages Christ is enduring an endless round of suffering, giving His body to other Marys for anointing and to other Judases to be kissed, beaten, and mistreated. Augustine explains how we can anoint Christ’s body:
Anoint Jesus’ feet by a life pleasing to God. Follow in His footsteps; if you have an abundance, give it to the poor. In this way you can wipe the feet of the Lord.
The poor are, as it were, the feet of the mystical Christ. By aiding them we can comfort our Lord in His mystical life, where He receives Judas’ kisses on all sides-the sins of Christians.
The Gospel account may be understood in a very personal way. In everyone’s heart, in my own too, there dwell two souls: a Judas-soul and a Mary-soul. The former is the cause of Jesus’ suffering, it is always ready to apostatize, always ready to give the traitor’s kiss. Are you full master over this Judas-soul within you? Your Magdalen-soul is a source of comfort to Christ in His sufferings. May the holy season of Lent, which with God’s help we are about to bring to a successful conclusion, bring victory over the Judas-soul and strengthen the Magdalen-soul within our breasts.
– Excerpt from Pius Parsch, The Church’s Year of Grace