Monday of Passion Week


Qeryana I (Old Testament Reading I): Genesis 37:1-22
Qeryana II (Old Testament Reading II):

Joshua 22:21-29

Engarta (Epistle Reading):

Hebrews 1:1-14

Evangalion (Gospel):

John 11:47-12:11

 

According to the Gospel of the day (Jn 11:47-12:11) the news about the many miracles that Jesus performed, especially his bringing the dead Lazarus back to life, disturbed the chief priests and the Pharisees very much. They met in council seeing that all were believing in Jesus and that that would create commotion among the people inviting the ruling Romans to come and destroy the holy nation and the holy places. Caiaphas who was the high priest of the year even declared that it would be better that one died for saving the nation.  St John notes that he was really making a prophecy about Jesus who was to die for the salvation of all. The authorities planned to put Jesus to death. In fact the miracle of Lazarus became the direct cause of the death of Jesus. Knowing this Jesus went into hiding, not for fear, but for the opportune time. It was the time of the Passover and the religious authorities sent out orders to collect information concerning the whereabouts of Jesus. Jesus’ life and activity were a challenge and a threat to people who put on a hypocritical mask of religiosity and piety. 

 

The authorities even wanted to do away with Lazarus who was the beneficiary of Jesus’ life-giving power and an unquestionable witness to Jesus’ divinity. Jesus’ miracles were signs of what he was to give to humans, here, of course, life. Surely John used the story to present Jesus as the giver of life (11:25). John does not use the expression ‘kingdom of God’ very much (Jn 3:3), but he often writes about ‘life’ and eternal life’ (Jn 3:16). His very presence of Lazarus was a threat to the manipulations of the authorities. “So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus also to death, because on account of him many of the Jews, were going away and believing in Jesus” (Jn 12:12-13). Criminals are not shy to commit any crime to cover up or even erase any trace of their criminal action.

 

Some six days before the Passover Jesus was at Bethany, in the home of Lazarus whom he had raised from the dead, with his sisters Martha and Mary who gave him a dinner. In the meanwhile Martha served at the table and Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with a costly perfume of pure nard. Judas Iscariot alone felt that the perfume worth such an amount could be used to help the poor and the evangelist notes that he said it not out of concern for the poor, but because he was the cashier who used to steal from it. Jesus’ response was: “Leave her alone. She brought 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” (12:7). There are social workers and others who appear to take the side of the poor and under that pretence amass money, titles and privileges, all for selfish gains. Weather his body was anointed or not was not of any concern for Jesus; but he wanted to give Mary a chance to express her legitimate and genuine love!

 

Gen 37:1-22 speaks about Joseph whom Patriarch Jacob loved more than the other children as he was the son of his old age.  And he was given a long robe with sleeves which appeared as a mark of distinction; Joseph used to report to the father that some of the brothers did not do well in shepherding. Because of these the brothers were displeased with their brother and even hated Joseph.  Besides, he claimed that he had a dream in which the sun, moon and eleven stars bowed down to him. Hearing this story the father rebuked Joseph and again the brothers became even more jealous of him. Jacob once sent his beloved son to Schechem where the brothers were pasturing their flock and Joseph had to go further and when the brothers met him they came together and planned to kill the dreamer. Because of the intervention of Reuben they spared him and did not dare to kill him, but stripped him of his robe and threw him into a pit. Joseph was blessed and favoured by God and man and that became the reason for his brothers to be jealous and hate him! The Genesis narrative is silent about the inner attitude of the privileged Joseph. Perhaps, though pampered by his father, he was innocent and innocently shared his dreams with his beloved ones. However, one has to be sensitive about the feelings of others. Special privileges may involve injustice and that may invite dire consequences. Jealousy, which made Cain commit the first murder on the earth, is a sickness that makes people forget all relationships and even emboldens them to commit any crime.

 

The book of Joshua 22:21-29 reminds the people that they have to be faithful in the true worship of the Lord: “For be it far from us that we should rebel against the Lord, and turn away this day from following the Lord by building an altar for burnt offering, cereal offering, or sacrifice, other than the altar of the Lord our God that stands before the tabernacle” (v.29).The Lord alone is God and he is to be worshipped and served as he has taught his people. Orthodoxy (correct faith) and orthopaxis (correct practice) are important.

 

The letter to the Hebrews 1:1-14 speaks about the superiority of Jesus, the Son of God and who is the Lord of all and whose throne is forever and who is to be worshiped even by the angels. The letter proclaims the kingship of Jesus who became human like anybody, while he was fully God. God has spoken to his people in different ways through the prophets and finally he has spoken through his Son through whom he created the world. He who is a reflection of the glory of God upholds the universe in the power of his word. As a human person he removed sin and sat at the right hand of God as he is superior to all including the angels. Citing psalm 2:7 the author says that to no angel has God ever said, “You are my Son, Today I have begotten you.” The author also quotes 2 Samuel 7:14, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.” These words were spoken by prophet Nathan to king David in the name of God. By this God adopted David and his sons as his adopted sons; here we have the beginning of royal messianism. Now, Jesus is the unique Son of God. All the angels are to worship him. Again the words of Ps 45:6-7 are applied to Jesus: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the righteous sceptre is the sceptre of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, your God has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your comrades.” The letter continues to show the superior dignity of Jesus citing also other psalms (vv. 10-14). The angels are in the service of human salvation.

 

The readings together prepare us to enter into the spirit of the passion week showing that Jesus who is above all the angels and the Son of God assumed our humanity to sanctify it through his humanity as we remember immediately after the words of institution in our Eucharistic liturgy: ‘he has put on our humanity to vivify it by his divinity.” He is the real ‘anointed of the Lord’ who fulfils the Old Testament promises. He came to give us life in its fullness (Jn10:10). The Gospel according to Luke makes it clear that Jesus’ glory involved also his suffering (Lk 24:26).  Jesus assures us: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (Jn 14:6). Jesus, in whom we have the fullness of life (Col 2:10), is the way to the liberating truth that gives us eternal life.

 

Father George Kaniarakath, CMI

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