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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[Mat. 20:17–19; cf. 17:21–22. Mark 9:29–31. Luke 9:21–22. John 12:1–11. Mat. 26:6–13]

The Paschal feast of the Jews was approaching, and Jesus set out for Jerusalem. At the beginning of this His last journey to the holy city, He said to the twelve: “Behold, we go to Jerusalem, and the Son of man shall be betrayed to the Chief Priests and to the Scribes and Ancients, and they shall condemn Him to death and shall deliver Him to the gentiles, and they shall mock Him and spit on Him and scourge Him and kill Him; and the third day He shall rise again.” But the apostles understood none of these things.

On his way He passed by Jericho, where He cured a blind man sitting by the wayside, and entered into the house of Zacheus, the chief of the publicans [Luke 19:1–10].

Six days before Easter He came to Bethania, the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha. There a supper was prepared for Him in the house of Simon the Leper, and Lazarus was one of those who sat at table with Him. Martha waited upon the Lord, but Mary brought an alabaster box, a pound of most precious ointment, and she poured it on the Saviour’s head as He was at table.

Now the whole house was filled with the perfume of the ointment. But Judas Iscariot said: “Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence and given to the poor?” Then the other disciples also had indignation, and said: “For what purpose is this waste?” Now Judas made this remark, not because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief and carried the purse, and was already possessed by the love of money which, a few days later, led him to betray his Master.

But Jesus, knowing what was going on among His disciples, exclaimed: “Why do you trouble this woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon Me. For the poor you have always with you, but Me you have not always. For she, in pouring this ointment upon My Body, hath done it for My burial. Amen, I say to you, wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, that also which she hath done, shall be told for a memory of her.”

Our Lord’s prophecies. He foretold, in detail, His sufferings and death. He also foretold His burial, and His resurrection on the third day.

The Divinity of our Lord. These prophecies prove that our Lord knew future things, that He is Omniscient and is therefore God.

Jesus suffered willingly; for though He knew the future, and what awaited Him at Jerusalem, He nevertheless went there to meet His Passion and Death.

Jesus suffered all His Life; for He knew beforehand the terrible sufferings and death which He would endure. These were before His eyes all through His life, and it may be said that, in a certain measure, He suffered a living death.

The Gospel is to be preached throughout the whole world. Our Lord foretold that this was to be, and at the same time He foretold that Mary’s service of love would be known and honoured throughout the length and breadth of Christendom. This prophecy has been, and is still being, fulfilled. Each of the three Evangelists, St. Matthew, St. Mark and St. John relate the incident; and on Palm-Sunday the Passion according to St. Matthew, which begins with this story, is read in every Catholic church throughout the world, and thus all Christians hear what Mary did to show her love for Jesus.

Covetousness is a capital sin. Judas had an inordinate love of money, or, in other words, was covetous or avaricious. He did not resist this evil passion, and therefore fell by degrees into greater sins. He began by stealing, first small, and then greater sums from the money entrusted to his care. He then displayed the most shameful hypocrisy by making out that the interests of the poor were his only care, whereas his real object in blaming Mary’s extravagance was to facilitate his thefts. In the hardness of his heart he robbed the poor of the alms due to them, and from treachery to them, proceeded to treachery towards his Lord and Master.

Generous love. By this anointing of our Lord Mary wished to give expression to her deep love for Him, and her gratitude for the raising up of her brother. She used the most costly ointment which could be procured, to signify that she was ready to offer up every thing she most valued for His sake.

Care for God’s honour, and care for the poor. Mary’s example teaches us that we should not economize when it is a question of the worship of God, and the building or beautifying of His churches. The praise bestowed on her by our Lord shows that such offerings in His honour are well pleasing to Him, if they are made in a spirit of love and reverence. There will always be men who, like Judas, will blame such generosity in God’s honour, and call it a needless extravagance, saying that the money would be far more usefully spent were it given to the poor—and yet such men as these care little or nothing for the poor. Christianity teaches that we ought to do the one, but not leave the other undone.

APPLICATION. When our Lord Jesus shed tears at the grave of Lazarus, the Jews said: “See how He loved him!” But Jesus has done far more for you. He has shed His Precious Blood for you, and given His Life for you. Can you not see how Jesus loves you? And how much do you love Him? How do you show your love?

Have you ever been a thief? Have you ever pilfered sugar, fruit, cakes &c. from your parents; or taken apples &c. which did not belong to you? If you have, you are a thief. Do you not know the Seventh Commandment?








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