Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow faint or be crushed
until he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his teaching.
Thus says God, the Lord,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people upon it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness,
I have taken you by the hand and kept you;
I have given you as a covenant to the people,
a light to the nations,
to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.
Psalm 27:1-3, 13-14
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
When evildoers assail me
to devour my flesh—
my adversaries and foes—
they shall stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war rise up against me,
yet I will be confident.
I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”
When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.
St. Therese of Lisieux said that we do not think about death enough. One of the ‘four last things’, death, along with judgment, heaven, and hell, are powerful prompts that make us consider the way we are living now, the next life, and what we hope to experience in it. It helps us resolve to use this life to do good and to fear offending God.
In today’s Gospel, we have a special group of people regarding the subject of death and it includes details about them and their activities. There is Lazarus who was raised from the dead; Jesus, who is soon to be facing death; Lazarus’ sister, Mary, who anoints Jesus with ointment to be saved for his burial; Lazarus’ sister, Martha, who is serving the dinner party for Jesus; Judas, who is a thief ready to betray Jesus; finally, the chief priests who are plotting to kill Jesus and Lazarus.
Those who have faced death: Lazarus, Martha and Mary, are hosting the dinner party and ministering to Jesus.
Judas complains about the cost of Mary’s precious ointment because he steals from his master’s treasury. He is thinking only about this life and his own goals for himself, rather than how to serve Jesus. Then the chief priests were plotting to kill Lazarus and Jesus. Even worse than Judas, these men were so attached to this world and what they wanted to do that they became ministers of death.
We will all have to face death. If we think about it now and desire to be faithful servants of the Lord, we may not know exactly what our reward will be, but we will protect ourselves from participating in the flesh, the works of the worldly, and the powers of darkness.
In the Gospel, as Jesus is preparing to conquer death, he shows us to bravely endure our cross. Death is not the end for us. God has the final word and if we put our faith in Him, we will share in the Kingdom of God for our eternity.