Notes from El Salvador
A Guest Message From Pastor Emely in El Salvador
Extravagance That is Only Possible Through Love
John 12: 1-8 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.”
In these verses we find the characteristics of a community of faith:
- The presence of the Lord. Jesus presides over a dinner that has been prepared for him;
- The believers resurrected with Christ: Lazarus, one who had been dead but whom the Lord had resurrected. Lazarus was a living testimony of the Lord’s power. He represents those who, being dead in their sins, have been resurrected together with Christ;
- Communion, witness, service and adoration: Martha served expressing, in this way, her love and gratitude for the Lord. Let's not forget that we are saved to serve the Lord and our brothers. Mary, on the other hand, had her own way of manifesting her love and devotion to the Master; she did it by giving away what was most valuable to anoint the feet of the Lord. Adoration consists of this: giving our Lord what we are and what we have to honor his holy name. The love and generosity with which Mary poured out that expensive perfume filled the house with a pleasant fragrance. Mary’s offering was a pleasant smell for Jesus; a total act of devotion and worship.
- An act of pure adoration: After having mentioned the three brothers and the work that each of them carried out in that dinner, the evangelist stops to consider the devotion of Mary to the Lord: Then Mary took a pound of perfume of pure nard, of great price, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped them with their hair; And the house was filled with the smell of perfume. Another interesting detail is that the love and generosity with which Mary poured out that expensive perfume made the house fill with a pleasant smell, we could say that Mary offered was an offering of pleasant smell for Jesus, it is a total devotion of devotion and worship.
Mary was sure that, before this action, those present would react in a negative way and, indeed, we see that Judas intercedes for the poor, saying that it was a waste of money that could be given to the poor. Jesus’ response has often been used to justify coldness towards the poor, but, in truth, it cannot legitimately serve that purpose. Jesus is clear that those in need will always be present in the world because it is necessary. Open your hand to your brother, to your poor, and to your needy. Because of social injustice, they will always be present. The true meaning of Jesus’ declaration is to take advantage of the opportunity when the poor appear, and to help them.
When a funeral is celebrated, the coffin is usually surrounded by people who mourn, they regret having asked for forgiveness, for not having dedicated their time, for not having helped when they should have and for their position for having shown their love as did Mary at the opportune moment where Jesus was present to receive and feel her actions. We must follow the example of a community of faith that identifies with fidelity to God, represented in the unity of the family, knowing that there is a risk because everything was ready to capture Jesus, serve Jesus and show his gratitude. On the other hand, Judas is only looking for his own benefit and not helping the poor.
Today in El Salvador, the life of religious leaders as well as social leaders who defend life are at risk because there are many Judas' who, in the name of the poor, increase their wealth and accuse and defraud those who work for the good of the majority. The Gospel challenges us every day to make visible the values of the Kingdom of God, through the accompaniment of the most vulnerable. Only then can we say that the time we dedicate to the community will not be wasted but will be invested, fulfilling the delivery to the poor. Jesus makes reference to total devotion without limits where the pleasant fragrance invades all injustice, the anguish of death and transforms it. Only love makes that transformation possible. Amen.
In Christ, Pastor Emely Chavez