In this week's gospel we hear the story of Jesus' final visit to his friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus before his entrance into Jerusalem for the Passover. In the story, Mary pours a pound of expensive perfume on Jesus' feet in a loving act of intimate care for her friend. One of the disciples, Judas, sees this loving act and remarks that this was a waste of precious resources, and that the money would have been put to better use by being given to the poor rather than being spent on this expensive perfume. While Judas' words appear righteous and compassionate, his underlying motivations are expressed by the author of John's gospel in a parenthetical statement:
(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.)
While not always as extreme as Judas, we all have underlying motivations for our words and actions, some of which we are conscious of and some of which we are not. One of the invitations of the gospel this week is to become increasingly aware of our motivations, not necessarily to change them, but just to acknowledge and observe them. This week, pay attention to your words and action this week, especially those that create tension either within your body or in your relationships. Take some time to wonder about the "why" of these words and actions. If someone was writing the gospel of your life, what would be in the parentheses after these words and actions? What are the practices (e.g. journaling, meditation, conversation, etc.) that help reveal your underlying "why?" Share your thoughts with the group, and take some time at your next gathering to share what came up for you as you noticed your motivations.