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move thee from thy dwelling-place; and thy root out of the land of the living. The just shall see and shall fear, and shall laugh at him, and say: Behold the man that made not God his helper (Psalm li.).
May we have grace to abide always under the help of the Most High (Psalm xc.), and to say from our hearts: “ Prevent, O Lord, and forestall all our actions by Thy holy inspirations, and carry them on by Thy gracious assistance, that every prayer and work of ours may begin always from Thee, and by Thee be happily ended ".
BETHANY. HOUSE OF SIMON.
And when Jesus was in Bethania, in the house of Simon the
Leper, they made Him a supper there (St. John xii.).
There seem to be, as has been said, some grounds for the opinion that Simon the Leper, who made the supper for Jesus in Bethany, was Simon the Pharisee, mentioned by St. Luke (c. vii.), who was entertaining our Saviour when the penitent woman knelt at His feet and anointed Him. On that occasion our Lord said to him: Simon, I have somewhat to say to thee, and taught him not to let his mind dwell on Magdalen's past sins, but on her present love. Many sins are forgiven her because she hath loved much. The words of Jesus may have borne good fruit. If afterwards leprosy came on, and if he was cured through the compassion of our Saviour, it is no wonder that he is now trying to show some gratitude. And if, moreover, as is thought, he was a kinsman of Magdalen and Lazarus, the resurrection of Lazarus is an additional reason for the hospitality he is offering so gladly to his Divine Master.
And when Jesus was in Bethania.
A. Simon, no doubt, and Lazarus and Mary and Martha constrained our Lord, as Cleophas afterwards did at Emmaus, to remain with them at Bethany before going on to Jerusalem. Mane nobiscum, quoniam advesperascit“Tarry with us, dear Master, to-night, for it is late”. We may humbly beg for some little share of their familiar and intimate love for our Blessed Lord. It is not presumption, for we are commanded to love Him with our whole hearts.
B. After this we may contemplate Simon, and try to enter into all his veneration and affection for Jesus, and mark the contrast between his thoughts at the former feast in Galilee and his thoughts of this evening in Bethany. He is not now saying in his heart: This Man if He were a Prophet, would know surely what manner of woman this is that toucheth Him, that she is a sinner (St. Luke vii.). He is watching in silent admiration the
. condescension of our Saviour, and with holy envy the devotion of Magdalen.
Even so, what a change will come over our thoughts when sin is entirely cleansed away in Purgatory! He whom we now look upon as an enemy will not then look like an enemy, but only as a beautiful image of Christ Jesus, and our brother. Wash me yet more from my iniquity, O Lord, that I may have a clean heart and judge no one, but have a kind thought and a kind word for all Thy little
And Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those that were
at table with Him (St. John xii. 2). A. With what a full and loving heart Martha serves Jesus; and, for His sake, all the other guests! How well pleased she is that so many are there to do Him honour !
What pains she takes that every one, after the toilsome journey from Jericho, shall be well refreshed!
She is not now troubled about many things. Her one wish is that her Lord, and all dear to Him, be treated with all reverence and all love. Let all Thy works, O Lord, praise Thee. The Lord lifteth up all that fall, and setteth up all that are cast down. The eyes of all hope in Thee, O Lord (Psalm cxliv.).
O chosen, happy Saint! We are all created to serve our Lord and to serve men who are His image. Obtain for us to give our service heartily, for He loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. ix.).
B. Lazarus was one of those who sat at table with Him. Sursum corda-Lift up your hearts to the Supper of the Lamb to which we are all invited and at which we all may sit with Jesus.
Write, said the Angel to St. John, Blessed are they that are called to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Apoc. xix.). Come, gather yourselves to the Great Supper of God (v. 17). This is the hope laid up in our hearts, that He will raise us from the dead as He raised Lazarus, and that we shall sit at table with Him in His Eternal Home. Nay, if here we are faithful servants, this most grateful Master, so meek and humble of Heart and so loving, assures us that He will gird Himself, and make us sit down, and will minister to us (St. Luke xii.). And the joys of this banquet and this companionship will not pass away with the evening. Time shall not bring an end to them. The thief shall never steal them away, nor any moth consume them.
Mother of God, pray for us sinners, that we may so pass through the changes of this changing world as not to lose the abiding good things prepared for us by Thy Son, our Lord.
Mary therefore (having an alabaster box of precious ointment)
took a pound of ointment of right spikenard and (breaking the alabaster box) she poured it out upon His Head : and she anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped the feet of Jesus with her hair, and the room was filled with the odour of her ointment (St. Mark xiv. ; St. John xii.).
A. Magdalen's heart is going back to the hour when Jesus raised her soul from death to life, and to the hour when He cried out with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. “O vos omnes, attendite.” O all ye who pass by heedlessly, stay a little while to study her love for her Lord and His contentment in her.
Does she grudge the precious spikenard? If a man should give all the substance of his house for love, he shall despise it as nothing (Cant. viii.). All that I have, dear Lord, all that I give, is Thy creation and Thy gift to me. To Thee I give it all—all back to Thee. In the simplicity of my heart I have joyfully offered all these things (Paral. xxix.). Call to mind the gratitude of old Tobias and his son to St. Raphael. Tobias called to him his son, and said to him: What can we give to the holy man, that is come with thee? Tobias answering said to his father, Father, what wages shall we give him or what can be worthy of his benefits ? (Tobias xii.).
While contemplating the grateful devotion of Magdalen, and watching how tears are running down from the eyes of Lazarus and Simon and others who love our Lord, what shall we say of ourselves, for we must in contemplation turn back upon ourselves ? Alas! who is the wonder ? who is the prodigy? Magdalen grateful and loving, or I cold, insensible, and selfish ?
The grateful and the loving cry out in eager desire, “Quid retribuam Domino pro omnibus qua retribuit mihi ? " (Psalm cxv.). What shall I, what can I, give back to the
. Lord for all He hath given unto me ? My sad prayer must be very different. Quid retribuam ? Judging by my past heartless indifference, what am I likely to give or offer to my Lord Jesus now ?
Alas! what can I do? This much at least I can do. I can again and again repeat the all-powerful cry, “Mother of God, pray for us sinners. Mother full of all grace, full of knowledge, full of maternal love for thy Divine Son, pray for us sinners who know Him not and love Him not, but wish to know Him well and to love Him much.”
With us oftentimes self has the place that Jesus has in the heart of Magdalen. All good things and delightful things and precious things are for self. We want the works of the Lord, His sunshine and the stillness of the night, and the herbs and flowers that grow, all to add to our comfort and pleasure.
“ Mother of God, pray for us sinners. Give birth to thy Son in our hearts. Let His Kingdom now come that He may reign instead of self.”
All ye blessed Saints of Bethany, pray for us. All ye holy disciples of our Lord, pray for us.
Then one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was about to
betray Him, said: Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence and given to the poor? (St. John
xii. 4, 5)
And the disciples seeing it had indignation (St. Matt. xxvi.
8). Now there were some that had indignation within themselves
(St. Mark xiv. 4).
we are apt to follow a leader, like sheep, some of the others thoughtlessly chime in. Observe how easily bad influence spreads from soul to soul. A little leaven corrupts the whole mass, St. Paul says (1 Cor. v. 6). Hence so many warnings against bad companionship. If the wolf shall at any time have fellowship with the lamb, so the sinner with the just. What fellowship hath a holy man with a dog? (Ecclus. xiii.). Bear not the yoke with unbelievers (mixed marriages). What fellowship hath light with darkness? Or what part hath the faithful with the unbeliever? Or what agreement hath the temple of God with idols ? For you are