The Lord our God makes all things new. In the first reading God promises it. In the gospel Mary anticipates it, anointing Jesus’ feet with costly perfume in preparation for the day of his burial. In the second reading we recall the transformation of Saul, the persecutor, into Paul, the apostle. In baptism, God’s new person (you!) rises daily from the deadly mire of trespasses and sins.
First Reading: Isaiah 43:16-21
16Thus says the Lord,
who makes a way in the sea,
a path in the mighty waters,
17who brings out chariot and horse,
army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
18Do not remember the former things,
or consider the things of old.
19I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
20The wild animals will honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
21the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise.
Psalm: Psalm 126
1When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
then were we like those who dream.
2Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy.
Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
3The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are glad indeed.
4Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like the watercourses of the Negeb.
5Those who sowed with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed,
will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.
Second Reading: Philippians 3:4b-14
[Paul writes:] 4bIf anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
7Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
12Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
Gospel: John 12:1-8
1Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5“Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”
New Revised Standard Version Bible, Copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Revised Common Lectionary, Copyright © 1992 Consultation on Common Texts, admin Augsburg Fortress. Used by permission.