Monday of Holy Week
“Why wasn’t this ointment sold for three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he was in charge of the common fund and used to help himself to the contributions.
Judas’ criticism in today’s gospel reading demonstrated his attempt at disguising his treachery with an impelling cause that seemed absolutely noble. His specious objection, hidden under its apparent common sense and charitableness, was oddly observed by other disciples and documented subsequently by the author of this gospel. I wondered if the author had already seen through Judas’ ploy during the dinner in Bethany, or as a consequent realisation in hindsight after connecting the dots post-betrayal.
Many Christians are willing to talk about their faith, their sense of self-righteousness and observation of the church teachings. Unfortunately, not all of those are obediently translating their faith into the actions and conduct commanded by the Lord. The hearers and preachers of God’s Word don’t always represent the faithful doers of the same Word. As the saying goes, “Talk is cheap.” It is one thing to say we love the Lord or we should do more to help the poor. But it is an entirely different thing to be doers of His Word by loving humanity and actually serving others in need. It is of no coincidence that today’s gospel featured Martha, the epitome of the doer who showed her love via her actions in serving wholeheartedly. We do Martha less than justice if we do not honour her and recognise that her kind of service is true service. Similar to Martha, many of us may not be able to rise to the heights of Jesus’ loftiest teachings, but at any rate, do humble, practical service in parishes; working laboriously in kitchens and workshops.
We may not harbour the same despicable ruse as Judas, but oftentimes, I think we would fall into the category of being a ‘point and click activist’, one that does not actually engage in efforts to help others. This modern-day phenomenon has amassed thousands of critics hiding behind their keyboards, condemning organisations or the society on the lack of support for the needy or a waste of donations, while at the same time, not doing much for the poor themselves and decrying other enthusiasts for being unpractical. The Internet has introduced a new age of mass participation and personal activism in which anyone can be a message maker or fund-raiser and mobilise thousands of people. As more voices clamour for attention, the result isn’t just more noise in the public arena, but more polarised opinions dividing the society. The current stack of online tools and platforms is especially good at organising attempts to discredit and criticise as opposed to synthesising solutions for genuine help.
I recall an article a few months ago where David Beasley, the director of the United Nations’ World Food Programme, laid out a suggestion to spend $6.6 billion to combat world hunger and called out Elon Musk to “step up and help, on a one-time basis” to resolve the food crisis. The apparent claim is that the $6 billion program, which constituted only 2% of Elon’s net worth, would be able to resolve the global hunger crisis and save 42 million people suffering from famine. While the proposal sounds rewarding, there isn’t a transparent and detailed system in place to account for how the money will solve world hunger. Even though this article may not have a direct correlation to the gospel passage and in no way alluding to any schemes identical to that of Judas, it emphasises the need to not just have a practical plan, but to execute in reality in order to bring about the goodness it advocates. Little wonder that our Catholic church has always highlighted that faith and good works go in tandem. Elon Musk may not have responded to the proposal from the UN WFP, but his sizeable donations over the years and the recent deployment of Starlink satellite internet stations to the Ukrainians demonstrated concrete actions to truly help those in need.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Dylan Tan)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we come to you in need of your peace and truth to soothe our hearts and spirits in these turbulent times. Please constantly remind us of your everlasting love, healing and grace and thank you for the gift of our saviour Jesus. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for setting us free from our burdens and being with us every single moment of our lives.