In searching for truth, sometimes it takes a simple but pointed sign to find a deep meaning to a reading. When standing up for what I believe in as a Catholic Christian (as a child of the Universal Church) and after 35 years of viewing the world though several different eye glasses (free willed lenses, political lenses, theological lenses, sociological lenses, and economical lenses), I’ve grown to not be afraid to ask questions about what I’ve seen. My final (and by final I mean current and more stable) corrected lenses have me seeing the world and humankind with utmost compassion, respect, love, and non-judgment.
Many non-believers or misinformed believers cannot wrap their heads around the value of many churches or cathedrals, built with thousands or even millions of dollars invested. You will always have a passionate debate when there is money involved, whether in regard to how it’s spent, collected, or distributed in society.
Prior to Jesus’ final days on Earth, while preparing to celebrate the Passover supper with his twelve disciples, he encounters a woman and a leper named Simon in the town of Bethany. Jesus receives a final anointing from the woman of quite expensive perfumed oil; she pours the whole amount over his head. Other indignant people in the room snarl at this act, calling it a waste. But Jesus quickly rebuts and defends her for her action.
The woman's motive, which focused initially on the Lord who was present before her, is to give freely with no care for the costly value of the container of perfumed oil which, if sold, could have fed herself, her peers, or a good number of the poor. Our Church remains universally committed to the same freely given offering of charity, prayer, communion, and outreach to the world to aid in removing the darkness of sin and poverty, and to successfully transform fear into solid belief though the ongoing preaching of Good News, given every single day. Because of our Church, people are given the opportunity to hear the Good News 365 days a year through daily mass, which aids in bringing them closer to God. Jesus states that there will always be suffering and poverty to attend to. If it wasn’t for thus continuous epidemic and struggle, we as a people of free will would not be converted towards good. A perfect world will not create a perfect person. For God to make everything correct would not teach us life lessons.
In our Church, to this day, perfumed oil continues to be given to everyone open and willing to receive God’s love. Perfumed oil is physically poured upon us in Baptism and in Confirmation, and in the Sacrament of the Sick.
Humankind created cathedrals and churches (our rock or cornerstone) in hope that, for each generation, they will stand untarnished by sin. Jesus says, “I won’t be here much longer” shortly before fulfilling his prophecy and being freed through death. But we believe that the tabernacle (his inner shrine) where Jesus’ body is kept in every single Catholic Church is considered his room, his furnished house of worship, which will never be a “waste” because of its price tag. Our cash value on our Earthly life is unimportant; we know money, possessions, or other treasures do not carry over with us in Heaven. What matters and what is taught by our Church is our willingness to love God first and, through that love and faith, how we put our hearts into the hands of the less fortunate in order to bring everyone into the same afterlife promised by Him.
St. Mary's YAM
St. Mary of the Assumption, Whittier