Monday, April 05, 2004
The Poor you will always have with you  

In today's Gospel reading from John 1:12, the disciple Judas questions Jesus about why the costly ointment that Mary uses was not sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus replies, "Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me" (7-8).

These words that Jesus spoke when He rebuked Judas about the use of the costly ointment being "wasted" on Him have puzzled people. After all, Jesus was concerned with the poor. Was He discounting the poor?

John makes it clear that Judas was no more concerned about the poor than those who use Jesus' words to justify doing nothing to help the poor. John wrote," [Judas] said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions" (6).

Actually, the key to understanding what Jesus meant is in the words that He said. Jesus is referring to a passage from determined 15:11:

For the poor will never cease out of the land; therefore I command you, You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in the land.

As Tim Gray has pointed out in his EWTN series on the Gospel of Mark, by citing this passage, Jesus is making it clear that because the poor will always be with us, we are commanded by God to help them. In other words, Jesus used His rebuke to Judas to show that we should constantly being serving the poor.

Judas had it wrong on two counts. He did not recognize the Messiah who was being anointed in anticipation of His burial by Mary's gift, and he did not recognize his need to "open wide" his hand to assist the poor. May we continue our Lenten generosity even as we have been commanded.

Posted by David at 6:06 PM  |  Comments (0)  | 


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