Then Jesus said “Father forgive them , for they know not what they do.” Then they divided his garments by casting lots . 🙏 Luke 23:34 ( NAB)
Jesus said to his disciples , ” Why do you make trouble for the woman ? She has done a good thing for me. The poor will always have you ;but you will not always have me. In
pouring this perfumed oil upon my body , she did it to prepare me for burial . Amen , I say to you , wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be spoken of , in memory of her.”
The words of Jesus , ” The poor you will always have,” have sometimes been misunderstood . Jesus was not saying that poverty is inevitable so there’s not much you can do about it .
Jesus was quoting from the Book of Deuteronomy where Moses is giving a speech to the Israelites as they prepared to enter the Promised Land . Moses tells them that there will be abundance in the new land and thus there’s no reason for poverty .
Then Moses recognizes , not in a complimentary way,that despite this abundance ,”the poor you will always have with you .” In other words , even though there is enough for everybody , it will probably not be distributed fairly.
Far from simply accepting poverty as a “a fact of life,” Jesus is quoting a passage that says that this should not be so.
In effect , he says : ” Why do you worry over this woman’s act of generosity, when you have accepted a system which leaves so many people in need ?”
It’s a good question to think about during Lent.
Now when Jesus was in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper , a woman came up to him with an alabaster jar of costly perfumed oil , and poured it on his head while he was reclining at table. When the disciples saw this , they were indignant and said ,” Why this waste ? It could have been sold for much more , and the money given to the poor.”
The perfumed oil would have very expensive . Mark , on his Gospel , even estimates the price : “More then three hundred days’ wages.”
This unnamed woman’s kind act toward Jesus sharply contrasts with the plot of the religious leaders to kill him.
In Mathew , her act is also in sharp contrast to the reaction of Jesus’ disciples who were annoyed at her largesse. Some have suggested that Mathew notes this because the community for whom he wrote had many people of means . He was directing a message to those who were overly concerned about money .
The traditional Lenten practice of almsgiving nudges us to lavish our largesse upon the poor. What would happen if I took a large bite of this week’s paycheck and give it to the poor ? I can’t do that every week, but , then again this is Lent.
It wouldn’t erase world poverty . But it would have a huge effect upon me , and remind me that all creation -including my possessions -belongs to God.
Here we are once again : Ash Wednesday . As a child in Catholic school, Ash Wednesday had a sort of comfortable simplicity : we all got a smudge of black-something to talk about at lunch-and then there were the Lenten penances : giving up candy or TV . As year follows upon year , I find myself longing for that simplicity . It is easy to see many failings in myself that will not be solved simply by “giving something up.” And when the chosen penances fail to “solve.”my problems , I am tempted to give up on penance entirely, reasoning that I have to be content with being “good enough.” Complacency sets in. “That is the way I am,” I reason. In today’s Gospel , Jesus sets before his followers the threefold discipline : prayer, fasting , almsgiving , but each time with a twist -each action is meant to be done “in secret,” hidden from others , but open to God.” And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” In other words , Lent is not about magic solutions to a problem . Lent is about coming to know our Father , who sees even our feeblest attempts . Is this not what I long for , the love that frees me from my complacency , that purifies every other love? And so I come forward , full of childlike hope, to get the smudge of ashes once again .
Jesus said to his disciples , “You know in two days’ time it will be Passover , and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified .” Them the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest , who was called Caiaphas , and they consulted together to arrest Jesus by treachery and put him to death. But they said ,”Not during the festival , that there may not be a riot among the people.” ( Mt 26:1-5)
In Mathew’s chronology , it is Wednesday , and Friday will be Passover . Jesus will become the new Passover lamb , brining to his people not freedom from slavery in Egypt , but freedom from the slavery of sin and the clutches of death.
At the beginning of Mathew’s Gospel , when the Magi inquired about the newborn king. Herod assembled the religious leaders to help locate the child . He wanted to kill him . Herod failed . Now , at the end of the Gospel , the religious leaders assembled for the same purpose . They will not fail .
I survived the first fragile days of life after my conception ( some don’t ) , and I’ve survived through all the years since then . But one day I shall die . I can’t foresee the details , but I can foresee the fact . I shall die. And I shall go to God.
Does the way I am living my life take into account ? Lent is more about losing weight.
How does Jesus resist the temptation of the devil? He is not relying on moral strength or trying hard to adhere to a code of ethics . It is Jesus’ unwavering love , trust , and affection for his Father that renders the devil and his temptations powerless .
The child who gets lost from his mother in the toy store cares nothing for any of the toys until he finds his mother again. No toy can tempt him away from the search for his mother . This is not because the child is a moral giant , but because the child wants his mommy .
Jesus sees everything , from bread to all kingdoms of the world , as meaningless without the love of his Father . When the devil tempts Jesus to test his Father’s love , Jesus knows that love which is manipulated is not love at all , and cannot compare to the free and abundant Love which is his Father.
Each Gospel has its own characteristic – a distinctive writing style , some content the others do not have , a differences in the order of events .
Despite their differences , the four evangelists come closest together and have the most in common In the passion account . This is because the death of Jesus was a story told and re-told over and over again,long before the evangelists put it in writing .
One characteristic of Mathew’s Gospel is the frequent citation of Old Testament texts that relate to an event in the life of Jesus. It is in Mathew that Jesus says at his arrest “All this has come to past so that the writings of the prophets may be fulfilled.”
It is Mathew who has Judas throw he 30 pieces of silver into the Temple and then hang himself , Pilate’s wife intervene with a dream in the middle of the trial , and Pilate wash his hands in front of the crowd.
When Jesus dies, Mathew writes of an earthquake , and the dead rising from their tombs and entering Jerusalem . These are not told for their own sake , but to bring out a deeper meaning . Mathew wants us to realize that what is taking place affects the earth and the heavens , and affects both this life and life after death.