When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, 2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.” 3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. 5 But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people. 6 Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. 8 And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9 For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. 12 In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”
14 Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. (Matthew 26:1-16)
THE CORRUPTION OF THE HIGH PRIESTS
While the exact location of Caiaphas’ home cannot be known, the remains of several spacious mansions dating to the first century have been found in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. Wealthy priests once lived there, as confirmed by the discovery in the modern Jewish Quarter of the first-century “burnt house” of Qathros the high priest (which was burned during the First Jewish Revolt) and as inferred from Josephus’ record of another high priestly home in the “upper city” of Jerusalem, which would correspond to modern Mount Zion (including the current Jewish Quarter). Such mansions had walls decorated with plastered panels and delicate, colorful frescoes; ceilings of stucco molded into intricate geometric designs; and mosaic floors in rooms containing water installations.
Jewish ritual baths and stone vessels testify to concern for ritual purity. Luxury wares were also found in these mansions, including bowls and plates painted with floral motifs, molded glass vessels, and expensive pottery (called terra sigillata) with angular shapes and a glossy red color. Together these remains provide a good picture of the presumed elegance of the high priest’s house.
*This historical information is from the ESV Online Study Bible.
A REFLECTION FROM FR. SEAN
Today's readings occur right before the Last Supper. We see the Jewish religious leaders plotting to kill Jesus. Jesus is a threat to their lavish lifestyle. They want to remain powerful and influential no matter what. They have built something great up in this world. How much Jesus contrasts with them. We recall Matthew 8:20, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” We also see how God provides and how wealth is appropriate when made as an offering to God rather than a tool of power and control. Finally we see the dirty money of betrayal as Judas betrays Jesus to the corrupt priests. May God guard our hearts and intentions in our attitude toward our own resources. May we look past the riches of this world to what is really valuable.
Let us pray.
Assist us mercifully with your grace, Lord God of our salvation, that we may enter with joy upon the meditation of those mighty acts by which you have promised us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.