Getting Ready For Sunday: by The Rev. Richard Towers

We are moved by Mary of Bethany’s act of devotion to Jesus while at dinner at the home of the recently resurrected Lazarus.   However, there was immediate and vocal opposition. Judas’ response might have been an attempt at deception. Did he really care about the cost of the nard or the poor that the proceeds could have helped? St. John made a parenthetical statement that dispelled all doubt. He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief” (John 12:6).

Jesus took Judas’ protest at face value and reminded him that the poor would be of perennial concern. What was of immediate concern was his impending passion, death and burial. Mary’s act showed that she was truly present to the power of the moment, grateful for Jesus’ raising her brother from the dead while simultaneously foreshadowing Jesus’ need for a proper burial himself.

Each Gospel account has some version of this story. St. Luke’s story is not connected to Christ’s passion and the woman goes unnamed. Additionally, she bathes Jesus’ feet with her tears, causing great affront. The host of that dinner party, Simon, protests the violation of purity codes which in turn led to the pronouncement of forgiveness for the woman.

People at Simon’s dinner party pondered the act and following absolution theologically, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” (Luke 7:49) Not only did Jesus forgive her, he lets her touch him. Which was probably the thing that perplexed the dinner guests the most.

In either home, Lazarus’ or Simon’s, the extravagant act of love would likely have been a scandalous violation of the honor/shame system of the day. Forgiveness of sin was a presumptuous and blasphemous act. Both rattled people. The established authorities began to plot to kill Lazarus and Jesus.

This passage gives us an opportunity to reflect on the outrageous nature of God’s forgiveness. Jesus loved sinners, dining and working with them. This love was demonstrated profoundly a short time later when he willingly participated in the sacred violence of his own sacrifice. God, in utter faithfulness, raised him and in so doing, shares life forever more.

The Richard A. Towers is the Lower School Chaplain at the Episcopal School of Dallas

The Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year C

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (RSV)

“Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.“

Bishop Tom Wright, in his volume Paul for Everyone: 2 Corinthians begins his discussion of this passage in this way: “When a new world is born, a new way of living goes with it.” (p.63)

The Rev. Canon Ed Monk is Rector of Saint John’s, Corsicana

As we prepare for the celebration of the Fourth Sunday in Lent, also known as “Mothering Sunday” or “Refreshment Sunday,” we begin to turn the corner towards our observance of Holy Week and Easter. As we have journeyed through the first three weeks of Lent, we have been challenged by the Church, and hopefully within ourselves, to follow the particular observances of Lent: taking on and giving up, reading and mediating, fasting and almsgiving. Why have we been doing this?

Hopefully, we find that the answer to this question is one similar to this: “So that I can be the person Christ has redeemed me to be.” Saint Paul reminds us that in Christ we are new creations, that is to say that we are no longer the person we once thought we were, or more importantly, the person we have made ourselves out to be.

During Lent, we are called upon to give and sacrifice so that we can recognize the new creation that we are. This is perhaps the most difficult journey of Lent, the journey to the self-realization of our “new creation-ness” in Christ.

Am I planning to go back to my old ways of living after Lent? If I am, then am I effectively ignoring the work that Christ has done in the world on my behalf?

Each of us, has to come to the realization that we now live in a new world. In that world Christ has conquered sin and death, and made us a new creation. In that new world, old ways of living no longer apply. Why then do we still live according to the old ways?

As the second Proper Preface for the season reminds us, we are called to “…come to the fullness of grace which [God] has prepared for those who love [him].” Yet strangely, we prefer the old way of death to the new life of grace.

As we turn our hearts and minds to Calvary, let us turn our lives there as well, and remember that through the death and resurrection of Jesus we are no longer who we said we are, but rather the ones whom He has called us to be.

Posted by The Rev. Canon Ed Monk with


This is a blog of essays meant to prepare parishioners for an upcoming Sunday reading.