Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Giving to the Poor

Mark 14:3-5 (ESV)
And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. [4] There were some who said to themselves indignantly, "Why was the ointment wasted like that? [5] For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor." And they scolded her.

This was very expensive ointment. Jesus was blest with extravagant gifts in his earthly ministry. They came about from time to time, most always carrying some greater meaning. And the greater meaning Christ makes explicit in the following verses. I always wonder where I would fall in all this. Would I think it a waste of money? Probably. We do it all the time. Perhaps the money could have been given to the poor. I like to think though that I would have been with the woman. But to tell you the truth it really is none of my business. It was her money, it was her ointment, and she spent it it a far wiser manner than I would have.
I’m sometimes puzzled, because it often happens that I find people upset with the manner in which the people of the church spend their money. People donate and build a nice church which will stand for quite some time in the neighborhood providing a sacred space for the community in which they can come to hear the good news and be forgiven. And people respond by saying, “why didn’t they spend that money on the poor?” Meanwhile these same people hold on to their own money with an iron fist and don’t bother to give it to the poor or to the church. Of course building the church probably did more to help the otherwise poor who would have been out of work than a soup kitchen. But most don’t think about things like that.

No comments: