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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Holy Monday
Memory of the martyrs for the sake of the Gospel.

Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

John 12,1-11

Six days before the Passover, Jesus went to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom he had raised from the dead.

They gave a dinner for him there; Martha waited on them and Lazarus was among those at table.

Mary brought in a pound of very costly ointment, pure nard, and with it anointed the feet of Jesus, wiping them with her hair; the house was filled with the scent of the ointment.

Then Judas Iscariot -- one of his disciples, the man who was to betray him-said,

'Why was this ointment 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 was in charge of the common fund and used to help himself to the contents.

So Jesus said, 'Leave her alone; let her keep it for the day of my burial.

You have the poor with you always, you will not always have me.'

Meanwhile a large number of Jews heard that he was there and came not only on account of Jesus but also to see Lazarus whom he had raised from the dead.

Then the chief priests decided to kill Lazarus as well,

since it was on his account that many of the Jews were leaving them and believing in Jesus.


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

With Palm Sunday we entered the Holy Week. The Gospel of John opens the narration of the Passion with the dinner in Bethany at the house of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus - a family that was very dear to Jesus. In these days of harsh fighting with the Pharisees and the priests, home has become a place to rest and relax. It was six days from Passover and Jesus was again having dinner with his friends. At one point during the dinner Mary gets up, kneels at Jesus’ feet and covers them with ointment and them dries them with her hair. The house fills with the smell of the perfume. For Judas, this is all a useless waste; "Why - he said aloud - was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii* and the money given to the poor?" In reality - the evangelist notes - he said this because he was interested in the money, not the poor. But Jesus allows Mary to continue her loving gesture: the ointment she uses foreshadows the oil which will be poured on his body before his burial. He adds: "You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me." Soon after, Jesus would begin his "way of the cross," which would lead him to his death. Mary was the only one who understood that Jesus was going to be put to death and therefore he needed special affection and closeness as every "dying" person requires. This woman who let herself be overwhelmed by Jesus’ love teaches us how to be near to this extraordinary Teacher throughout the next few days and how to be near to the weak and the sick every day. In Mary’s act of love we can see the way of salvation: by affectionately accompanying the poor we live in the company of Jesus. We will always have the poor with us, and they are able to tell us how much they need the ointment of friendship and affection.

Holy Monday