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The Heart of Discipleship

Daily Reflections for Lent by Sr. Genevieve Glen, OSB; Not by Bread Alone 2017, Liturgical Press: Minnesota


April 10: Monday of Holy Week

The Heart of Discipleship

Reading: Isaiah 42:1-7; John 12:1-11  


Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil. . . . and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair. . . . (John 12:3)


Reflection: Mary of Bethany—Martha and Lazarus’s sister, Jesus’ friend and disciple—reappears in today’s gospel. In Luke’s gospel, written earlier than John’s, she provoked her sister’s ire by choosing to sit at Jesus’ feet like a disciple and listen to him rather than helping with the meal. Now she again flouts convention buy anointing Jesus’ feet with expensive perfumed oil and drying them with her hair. Again she provokes ire, this time from Judas. Ironically, he protests her disregard for Jesus’ teaching about the poor, though he, not she, will prove to be the false disciple. In neither story does Mary utter a word of self-defense, but Jesus defends her in startling terms—in Luke, for choosing the one essential, a listening discipleship; here for expressing her discipleship in an act Jesus deems prophetic.

In both cases, Mary goes to the heart of discipleship: the mystery of Jesus himself, in Luke as the Word of God speaking of their midst, now in John as the Anointed One who will die. She annoys her sister Martha by ignoring the precept of hospitality to a guest. She angers Judas by ignoring the poor. Jesus says once again that Mary, disciple to the core, has her priorities right: the person of this Messiah outweighs even his own ethical teaching. There are times, and this is one of them, when the disciple must let Jesus’ teachings fade into the background to focus attention entirely on him and own fully who he really is. And, as Jesus himself will, Mary sets aside all concern for her own good name to do what discipleship bids her because she above all of them has truly understood the Truth he will claim at the Last Supper to be (John 14:6)

We live in a doing a world, busy about work of all sorts. As disciples, we do our best to carry out the works of the gospel. But Mary teaches us the core of discipleship: knowing Jesus, the source and definition of all good works.

Meditation: What has your focus been this Lent? How has your Lenten penance brought you to know Christ more deeply?

Prayer: Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, grant us the grace to recognize you as the source and center of our life as disciples.


(Image from the internet.)

Tags: Holy Monday, Holy Week, reflections