The poor you always have with you ...

Mary therefore took a pound1 of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” ...
Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

Are there more depressing words than the title of this post? The essence of it is really true. Throughout history people have been born poor or have become poor. And despite the efforts of many in, and out of, the church poverty remains one of the greatest problems in the world today. The verse reminds me of this verse in Proverbs:

    Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.

I think that the poor have a special place in the heart of God and when we help people such as these we put our hearts in agreement with His. Knowing that Jesus is no longer with us in the flesh I think of what he taught us in the parable of the sheep and the goats. Consider what he says of the sheep who cared for the poor, the sick and the imprisoned.

    Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.

We may not have Jesus with us as in the days when he walked among men but we certainly have him with us in the form of the poor. And I believe that it is like pouring fragrant perfume on the feet of Christ when we are generous to the poor. It is a matter of perspective. Will we be generous like Mary or selfish like Judas? Will we act like sheep or goats?

All that I have is yours Lord. Teach me to be generous.

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