You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.
Day Thirty Five of Lent: Monday of Holy Week – Isaiah 42
“A bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench. He will faithfully bring forth justice” -Is. 42:3.
Today’s Lenten Reflection
In today’s Gospel reading, John 12:1-11, Judas is scandalized when Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with oil worth ‘three hundred days’ wages.’ Something so valuable could have been sold to support the poor, said Judas. But Jesus corrects Judas, explaining: You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me (Jn 12:8).
What perspective given by Jesus. Yes, the poor will always be with us – and we must do our part – but we must also keep ‘the main thing, Jesus, the main thing’ in our lives. In this passage we can suspect that Judas did not understand this concept nor the concept of generosity. After all, he himself could not bear to suffer and go without. We know this to be true because the Gospel tells us that Judas was a thief who used to steal contributions. That being stated however, before we judge Judas too harshly for being ungenerous, we too must examine our own lives and actions.
Let’s face it, when it comes to money we can quickly clam up. Think about a ten percent tithe for example. Tithing ten percent of our income in an already struggling economy is no easy feat. It demands faith. But if we truly trusted God and what He says, then we should be able to believe in our hearts that obeying His Word and honoring Him with our faith will mean exactly what He says – that we will not lack any good thing. But still we find ourselves flinching at the idea of giving, secretly asking ourselves: What is in it for me? Will God really bless me or will I just be in lack?
When we find ourselves with an ungenerous spirit or gripped with fear, we should immediately look for ways to be charitable. Like Jesus and His faithful disciples, we must embrace the Christian suffering of our own poverty in order to gain a generosity like Mary. Her powerful faith and generous spirit allowed her to give all that she had – the most expensive oil – to our Lord. Once we fully accept that everything we have comes from Him through prayer, we will become free from wordly attachments. Moreover, we will become even more courageous in our faith which will enable us to be generous far beyond our natural inclinations.
Today’s Lenten Reflection
As we head deeper into Holy Week, spend some extra time meditating on Jesus’ Passion and all that He did for us on the Cross. If you have been struggling to be generous, ask God for the grace of charity. Many times when we struggle with generosity it is rooted in fear. Examine where that worry may be coming from and then ask God to root it from your heart. This will help you to faithfully serve Him in the way He has requested and blesses.
Additional Reading for Today
Isaiah 42:1-7; John 12:1-11
Father of the poor, teach us to accept our own poverty of spirit. Take us beyond the curtain of faith and show us the blessings of possessing a generous spirit. We pray that You would give us the grace to give generously like Mary did so that we can stand boldly in Your favor. As You continue to work in our souls, Lord, we humbly walk with You this week. We are pained by what we know is coming and we are grieved by our role in it. As we follow You carrying our own crosses, we pray also for the grace to remain by Your side – bending, swaying, breathing, waiting. Lord Jesus, it is in Your good and holy Name we pray, amen.
Today’s Suggested Penance
Give away some of your belongings to someone in need. Expect nothing in return.
“Humility [and poverty] makes our lives acceptable to God; meekness makes us acceptable to men” -Saint Frances de Sales.