“The poor you will always have with you.”
These are common situations: Families living paycheck to paycheck. Single mothers trying to stretch their resources farther and farther. Homeless men on street corners holding signs that say, "Will work for food." Children with swollen bellies because they don't have food.
In place of the rich provision given by God in Eden, we now find poverty and material need. Sometimes poverty is the result of injustice and oppression. Other times it stems from bad choices made by people in need. Still other times it comes from circumstances beyond people's control: injury, disability, corporate downsizing.
As societies, we struggle to know how to respond to inequality. We assign blame, often in simplistic ways.
Jesus' words in Matthew 26 about the poor have sometimes been used as an excuse to avoid helping people in need. But he was simply describing the brokenness in which we live. He also taught that in caring for needy people on his behalf, we will serve Jesus himself (Matthew 25:37-40). The woman who anointed Jesus was weak and broken. He protected her dignity and honored her struggle.
The poor are with us. Perhaps in this new year our love for Jesus will yield a new willingness to care for the weak and oppressed.
Lord Jesus, you left heaven to become poor for our sake. May we also be willing to enter the struggles of the poor in our midst and to serve them with the riches of the gospel. Amen.
See God's love, power, presence, and purpose in your life every day!