The season of Lent is coming to a close and we know what that means, the cross is next on the way to Easter morning. As much as we want to jump ahead to the excitement of Easter, the cross must first be faced. The reading for this coming Sunday is setting up what Jesus will soon be facing and that is the cross. The dichotomy of death and life can’t be ignored.
Jesus is at the home of Lazarus whom he had restored to life from death. Immediately after this the entire Sanhedrin was called together to deal with the problem of Jesus going around doing miraculous things. If Jesus were allowed to go around showing signs of the Kingdom of Heaven the Romans will come and take away all they have worked to accomplish. Caiaphas declared that it would better for one man to die than for the nation they have labored to create perish.
Following the above reading, the chief priests were concerned about the crowds gathering around Lazarus’ house. They began to plan Jesus’ death and Lazarus’ death too. Hey, do you really want visual proof of life rising out of death to be seen! People would want this and reject the power structures at play. Better kill off life so that the old ways of death can be maintained. How foolish we are. How obvious our sin and how oblivious we are to recognize it.
At Lazarus’ house, Mary takes out fragrant oil to anoint Jesus for his burial. A humble act and loving act as she uses her hair to wipe the perfume over his feet. Judas Iscariot complains that this expensive perfume could be sold and the proceeds given to the poor. He doesn’t understand what is happening.
As long as Jesus is present, the Kingdom of Heaven is present. Jesus will soon be crucified and raised from the dead. Then he will ascend in glory. We wait for the day when he returns and the Kingdom is fully established. Until then, we contend with the powers that be. The powers that emphasize killing and death to keep control. The powers that leave us with a privileged few and poverty for the rest.
The season of Lent is drawing to its end and the cross is coming sharper into focus. This is a good time to be reminded of the powers that be and our complicity in their efforts that result in death and poverty. This is also a good time to remember the Kingdom of Heaven and how we can be a witness to its life giving ways.