The Common Good
November-December 1999

Here Today and Here Tomorrow

by John Hertzler | November-December 1999

Ched Myers in "’Behold, the Treasure of the Church’", notes that Jesus’ statement "For the poor will always be with you" is often misunderstood and used to justify the existence of hte poor.

CHED MYERS, in "’Behold, the Treasure of the Church’"(September-October 1999), notes that Jesus’ statement "For the poor will always be with you" is often misunderstood and used to justify the existence of the poor. I agree. Let me suggest that one of the reasons for this misunderstanding is that the context of the quote is not considered.

Complaints were being made that the expensive ointment poured on Jesus’ head was a waste. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.

Jesus, in defending the donor, is saying, in effect, my time here is short. My death and burial are imminent. My need to be cared about is immediate. This woman’s need to make this generous expression of love and devotion is now. Tomorrow may be too late. But poor people still will be here tomorrow. Spikenard can be traded for cash for them then. This woman (and all of you) will have many opportunities to care for the poor in the near future.

In short, Jesus was making a statement about timeliness. His words have little to do with how we are to think of, relate to, or treat the poor. He speaks to these issues elsewhere.

Sojourners relies on the support of readers like you to sustain our message and ministry.

Like what you're reading? Get Sojourners E-Mail updates!

Sojourners Comment Community Covenant

I will express myself with civility, courtesy, and respect for every member of the Sojourners online community, especially toward those with whom I disagree, even if I feel disrespected by them. (Romans 12:17-21)

I will express my disagreements with other community members' ideas without insulting, mocking, or slandering them personally. (Matthew 5:22)

I will not exaggerate others' beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions based on labels, categories, or stereotypes. I will always extend the benefit of the doubt. (Ephesians 4:29)

I will hold others accountable by clicking "report" on comments that violate these principles, based not on what ideas are expressed but on how they're expressed. (2 Thessalonians 3:13-15)

I understand that comments reported as abusive are reviewed by Sojourners staff and are subject to removal. Repeat offenders will be blocked from making further comments. (Proverbs 18:7)