A reading from the gospel according to John 12:1-11:
1 Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
2 They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him.
3 Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
4 Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said,
5 “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?”
6 He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions.
7 So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial.
8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”
9 The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came, not only because of him, but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.
10 And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too,
11 because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him.
The raising of Lazarus from the dead is a precursor of the resurrection of Jesus which gives us the message that indeed life does not end in death. He is alive and his presence during the dinner was a living testament of the power of Jesus. Many Jews came to believe in Him because they saw the sign. On the other hand, the chief priests had a contrasting attitude towards Jesus. They were jealous and fearful of His growing popularity. So they plotted to kill Him.
And the plot does not thicken. The chief priests will find an easy way to destroy Jesus. Someone was plotting to do an inside job. That someone is no other than Judas Iscariot who was with Jesus from the beginning. He was chosen to be part in building the Kingdom that Jesus has established. Yet what he did was to destroy the kingdom through betrayal. His plan was accomplished but he ended up losing his life in the most repulsive manner. The words of Jesus easily comes to mind: what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Mark 8:36).
While Mary shows her love for Jesus without counting the cost, Judas Iscariot was busy computing how much money he will pocket when he delivers Jesus to the authorities. Meanwhile, he uses the poor in his hypocritical opposition to the wasteful use of an expensive oil. Even today, the poor are always used and abused by some people especially politicians but real service to them is apparently lacking.
The gospel is reminding us that the poor is always with us. May our love of Jesus translate into action that gives meaning to love of neighbor. The poor are always there needing our help. Serving the poor means not emulating Judas Iscariot who was always thinking of what to gain. Woe to those using the Poor for personal interest.