St. Helen’s Daily Lenten Devotional
Jesus said, rebuking Judas, “You always have the poor with you…” (John 12:8,also Matthew 26:11, Mark 14:7) Truth spoken and confirmed.
When we think of poverty, any number of scenarios might come to mind. Our thoughts could go to the reality of refugee camps, slums or barrios, in distant lands and reflect on international issues related to food and water scarcity and the plethora of social plights therein. We might remember the last time we ventured into the city of Ottawa, on a bitter winter’s night, and observed a huddled form on a heating grate. Returning to our comfortable residences we sent a donation towards the care of the homeless and the resolution to that problem. We might, if it is in our personal histories, recall times when money was tight, the future uncertain, the despair very real. The scope is immense and daunting. What can one person do?
When Jesus said that we would “always have the poor” he was referencing a passage from Deuteronomy, Chapter 15:7-8, verses well known to his listeners: If there is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted toward your needy neighbor. You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be. The call, therefore, is not to give up because the issues are so big but rather to respond. Jesus was advocating compassion, generosity, and action.
Now what is our motivation to do so? For some that might be guilt. For others it could be out of thankfulness, being blessed and so sharing the wealth. There could be a tax credit involved. Or it could be the pure spirit of compassion, the spirit of Christ, for those who, for a multitude of reasons, are marginalized. Whatever the motivation, that word in the invitation to observe a holy Lent, by ‘almsgiving’, won’t go away.
The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to (Jesus).
He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.