A Sense of Taste and Smell

anointing“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.” (John 12:3)

It was always interesting to have dinner with one my brother friars.We would being eating pasta and sauce and he is across the table in near ecstasy going  on about the flavors, the subtle taste of this or that ingredient. It was almost the diner scene from “Harry Met Sally.” Me? I can barely distinguish between Mama Leoni’s and mama-it-came-from-a-jar.  I suspect my friar friend is a ‘supertaster” – a person by genetic disposition and heritage who possesses more taste buds, a greater sense, and is inevitably a “foodie.”

Continue reading

The Lord’s Supper

mysteries_eucharist22 While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” 23 Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. 25 Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” 26 Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Continue reading

The Betrayal Announced

Last-supper-from-Kremikovtsi-217 When it was evening, he came with the Twelve. 18 And as they reclined at table and were eating, Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” 19 They began to be distressed and to say to him, one by one, “Surely it is not I?” 20 He said to them, “One of the Twelve, the one who dips with me into the dish. 21 For the Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.” Continue reading

Passover Preparations

Last-supper-from-Kremikovtsi-212 On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 13 He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him. 14 Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’ 15 Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there.” 16 The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover. Continue reading

The Long Way Home

Wiz-of-OzIn a recent issue of America Magazine, William J. O’Malley wrote about “taking the long way home.” It was a wonderful “musing” on the classic movie, “The Wizard of Oz.” We are reminded about the archetypal scene when Dorothy’s house lands on the Wicked Witch and then Glinda, the good witch, shows up and magically transfers the ruby slippers to Dorothy. As the ending of the movie makes clear, all Dorothy had to do was to click her heel and proclaim, “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.” Why didn’t Glinda tell Dorothy that at the very beginning? Of course, if Glinda did there would be no story, no journey – and the journey is the very point of the story. At the beginning of the story Dorothy is not ready to move into the next stage of her life until she has discovered that she already has the virtues her three companions on the journey seem to lack: courage, intelligence, and love. The journey becomes the venue to reveal to herself that she is ready for what lays ahead. It is only possible because she took the long way home. Continue reading

A betrayal planned

JudasBetrayal-Giotto10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went off to the chief priests to hand him over to them. 11 When they heard him they were pleased and promised to pay him money. Then he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

Mark inserts the beginning of the betrayal into the narrative. It draws a sharp contrast between the selfless devotion of the woman and the treachery planned by his friend. Mark tells us the “what” but not necessarily the “why.” We know that the chief priest and scribed were seeking “a way to arrest him by treachery and put him to death.” (v.1) But they needed a strategy that would avoid a public scene and the possibility of a riot. The offer from Judas was an opportunity to avoid a public disturbance (or even riot). Continue reading

The Annunciation

TheAnnunciationAt first blush it does seem odd that the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord falls in the midst of Lent. It is an event in the life of Christ that we associate with Advent. That scene in which the Angel Gabriele comes to Mary to announce she will be the mother of Emmanuel, “God with us.”

My friend, Fr. Bill McConville OFM, notes that part of the church’s art tradition is that the scene of the Annunciation often portrays Mary, not empty-handed, but holding a book or a scroll, her reading and reflecting on Scripture being interrupted by the angel’s pronouncement. The tradition is that she is meditating on Isaiah 7 (today’s first reading) in which there is the promise that a virgin will bear a child. Continue reading

The Anointing in Bethany

anointing3 When he was in Bethany reclining at table in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of perfumed oil, costly genuine spikenard. She broke the alabaster jar and poured it on his head. 4 There were some who were indignant. “Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil? 5 It could have been sold for more than three hundred days’ wages and the money given to the poor.” They were infuriated with her. 6 Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you make trouble for her? She has done a good thing for me. 7 The poor you will always have with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them, but you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could. She has anticipated anointing my body for burial. 9 Amen, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed to the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Continue reading

Hosanna in the highest

Entry_Into_Jerusalem11 When they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately on entering it, you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone should say to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ reply, ‘The Master has need of it and will send it back here at once.’” 4 So they went off and found a colt tethered at a gate outside on the street, and they untied it. 5 Some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 They answered them just as Jesus had told them to, and they permitted them to do it. 7 So they brought the colt to Jesus and put their cloaks over it. And he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. 9 Those preceding him as well as those following kept crying out: “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come! Hosanna in the highest!” 11 He entered Jerusalem and went into the temple area. He looked around at everything and, since it was already late, went out to Bethany with the Twelve. Continue reading