It was only quite recently, really, that I came across a "right-wing" interpretation of the statement by Jesus that "the poor we have always with us" as meaning that we don't have to help the poor!
Needless to say, I was appalled.
Here's part of a reflection on this morning's gospel reading that is more in line with the true character of Our Lord:
Lent is a time when we think about giving things up, not living extravagantly. If we pay attention to Jesus’ teaching, we know that money is a gift to be shared.It's by Melissa Bane Sevier and I found it on her blog post entitled "The Spiritual Practice of Extravagance". I'm going to explore her blog more fully, I think. I really like her style!
But then there is this story in John 12:1-9. Mary, the sister of Lazarus (the man Jesus raised from the dead), brings an exorbitantly priced perfume and pours it out on Jesus’ feet. Judas complains. This should have been spent on the poor, he said. We sort of agree with him. Jesus’ response? “You always have the poor with you, but you won’t always have me.” What? That doesn’t really sound like Jesus.
He’s quoting from Deuteronomy 15. “Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you: Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.” Not exactly a condemnation of helping the poor, is it?