Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Care for the Poor

John 12:8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me."

8 τοὺς πτωχοὺς γὰρ πάντοτε ἔχετε μεθ᾽ ἑαυτῶν, ἐμὲ δὲ οὐ πάντοτε ἔχετε.

This was Jesus' rebuke at Judas Iscariot's false piety.  Judas wanted to rebuke Mary for "wasting" the perfume on Jesus' feet.  He suggested that they sell it for 300 denarii (roughly a year's wages) and use the money to help the poor.  Of course, Jesus knew Judas' heart and that Judas wanted to pocket his normal take of the till.  This is the reason Jesus gives him in defense of Mary's act.

I think this is an oft-abused verse among American Christians.  A lot of us tend to vote Republican for various reasons, many of them good.  The Republican party does a better job on the issue of abortion, for example.  And I don't think that it is the government's job to take care of the poor.  It is the church's job.  However, this verse is sometimes used to absolve us from our duty to care for the poor.  It is true that the poor will always be with us, but that does not mean we should sit idly by.

I have used this verse in defense of Capitalism against Communism.  In a sense, it is true.  Yet I can't help but think that one of the implications of this verse is that our care for the poor is a form of worship of Jesus.  This is very convicting to me.  How about you?

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