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The Supper at Bethany

The Supper at Bethany
Monday of Holy Week


Presence of God— O Lord, with Mary of Bethany I wish to pay my humble, devout homage to Your sacred Body before it is disfigured by the Passion.


The Gospel for today (John 12:1-9) tells us of this impressive scene: “Jesus therefore, six days before the Pasch, came to Bethany … and they made Him a supper there; and, Martha served…. for post on The Supper at BethanyMary, therefore, took a pound of ointment of right spikenard, of great price, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair.” Martha, as usual, was busy about many things. Mary, however, paid attention only to Jesus; to show respect to Him, it did not seem extravagant to her to pour over Him a whole vase of precious perfume. Some of those present murmured, “Why this waste? Could not the ointment have been sold … and the price given to the poor?” And they murmured against her (cf. Mark 14:4,5). Mary said nothing and made no excuses; completely absorbed in her adored Master, she continued her work of devotion and love.

Mary is the symbol of the soul in love with God, the soul who gives herself exclusively to Him, consuming for Him all that she is and all that she has. She is the symbol of those souls who give up, in whole or in part, exterior activity, in order to consecrate themselves more fully to the immediate service of God and to devote themselves to a life of more intimate union with Him. This total consecration to the Lord is deemed wasteful by those who fail to understand it–although the same offering, if otherwise employed, would cause no complaint. If everything we are and have is His gift, can it be a waste to sacrifice it in His honor and, by so acting, to repair for the indifference of countless souls who seldom, if ever, think of Him?

Money, time, strength, and even human lives spent in the immediate service of the Lord, far from being wasted, reach therein the perfection of their being. Moreover, by this consecration, they conform to the proper scale of values. Giving alms to the poor is a duty, but the worship and love of God is a higher obligation. If urgent works of charity sometimes require us to leave His service for that of our neighbor, no change in the hierarchy of importance is thereby implied. God must always have the first place.

Jesus Himself then comes to Mary’s defense: “Let her be, that she may keep this perfume against the day of My burial.” In the name of all those who love, Mary gave the sacred Body of Jesus, before it was disfigured by the Passion, the ultimate homage of an ardent love and devotion.


Here are two paths, Lord, as diametrically opposed as possible: one of fidelity and one of betrayal, the loving fidelity of Mary of Bethany, the horrible treachery of Judas. O Lord, how I should like to offer You a heart like Mary’s! How I should like to see the traitor in me entirely dead and destroyed!

But You tell me: “Watch ye, and pray that you enter not into temptation!” (Mark 14:38). Oh! how necessary it is for me to watch and pray, so that the enemy will not come to sow the poisonous germs of treason in my heart! May I be faithful to You, Lord, faithful at any cost, in big things as well as in small, so that the foxes of little attachments will never succeed in invading and destroying the vineyard of my heart!

“Lord Jesus, when I meditate on Your Passion, the first thing that strikes me is the perfidy of the traitor. He was so full of the venom of bad faith that he actually betrayed You–You, his Master and Lord. He was inflamed with such cupidity that he sold his God for money, and in exchange for a few vile coins delivered up Your precious Blood. His ingratitude went so far that he persecuted even to death Him who had raised him to the height of the apostolate…. O Jesus, how great was Your goodness toward this hard-hearted disciple! Although his wickedness was so great, I am much more impressed by Your gentleness and meekness, O Lamb of God! You have given me this meekness as a model. Behold, O Lord, the man whom You allowed to share Your most special confidences, the man who seemed to be so united to You, Your Apostle, Your friend, the man who ate Your bread, and who, at the Last Supper, tasted with You the sweet cup, and this man committed this monstrous crime against You, his Master! But, in spite of all this at the time of betrayal, You, O meek Lamb, did not refuse the kiss of that mouth so full of malice. You gave him everything, even as You gave to the other Apostles, in order not to deprive him of anything that might melt the hardness of his evil heart” (cf. St. Bonaventure).

O Jesus, by the atrocious suffering inflicted on Your heart by that infamous treachery, grant me, I beg of You, the grace of a fidelity that is total, loving, and devoted.


Note from Dan: These posts are provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contain one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here:  Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.

Art for this post on The Supper at Bethany: A Disciple washes Christ’s feet, 10 January 2012, own work, Nheyob, CC, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Jeanette

    “Blessed Father, make our lives a continual anointing of the feet of Jesus. Remind us that His love raised Lazarus from the dead.” – prayer taken from The Magnificat Lenten Companion

    • LizEst

      Beautiful. Thanks Jeanette.

  • Jeanette

    unum necessarium
    “One thing is necessary.” ~Jesus

  • Anneli Sinkko

    I met an old lady who have given all her work to the church and now she said: I am too old to DO tasks any more – I am totally useless’. I reminded her of Mary and said that now Lord Jesus is giving her a better role – she now can listen to her Lord and worship him in deep devotion. She was totally blessed and grateful to me.

    • LizEst

      Wonderful! Thanks for sharing that testimony Anneli! God bless you and yours!

      • Anneli Sinkko

        Thank you dear LizEst. I feel blessed that I was able to bring joy from above to you. Love Anneli

    • Patricia

      I appreciate your point and see this dedication to prayer as a wonderful way to still serve God through prayer when age/physical capacity precludes active works… A wonderful and productive purpose filled call to serve and adore Jesus no matter what one’s age or physical state.
      It is also good to mention that some choose this life style of adoration and prayer as an act of love, although still physically capable, after the heart of Mary in this posting, such as St. Therese- age 15. Many adults, both those in religious life and those who are not, have made this choice of a life of prayer and adoration. And then in contrast, there are those who continue to serve activity far beyond their years. God loves to work though those whom it is obvious that their “works” are not their own.
      Abraham was 100 years old, Moses was 80. Pope Francis is 80 and has duties, pressures, speaking engagements to various very important people around the world and a travel schedule that most of any of us could not begin to do – and operating with only one lung! Mother Teresa was 87, not five feet high and frail in statue, and still dragging the dying from the streets. Bishops must retire at 75, and many active priests are over 70 too. I agree that no one is useless!

  • Patricia

    It was Judas who complained about the cost of the perfumed oil that Mary was pouring over Jesus. The betrayer complained about the adorer. When we meet betrayers amongst us now, we must increase our acts of adoration as our response. As the posting states, Mary gave up exterior works to devote herself exclusively to Jesus symbolized by breaking the jar of oil to pour out every last drop so that nothing would be left- every last drop would be used for Him. It is the perfect model of loving Jesus exclusively to compensate for indifferenes and betrayal, especially amongst those who profess to love Him. St. Therese was like this too, being “the little flower” that grew near the Tabernacle where Jesus is waiting for us to come to Him. This little flower would be there only for Him, only surviving by being watered by His tears and the dew from His face. These are not necessarily models for religious life, but an interior state of the heart. Holy Thursday is this week. The night of the ultimate betrayal of Jesus. The night of adoration after the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. We can be there as an adorer for the sake of the continuing betrayal of Jesus.

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