But Jesus said, "Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her." (Mark 14:3-9)
The people gathered at Simon’s house were missing the point of what this woman was doing. They saw with their physical eyes and their indignation and disgust was distracting them from what was really happening. The people were more focused on the value of the nard and what could be done with it, than they were on Jesus Christ.
"The poor always being with us" is probably one of the most misquoted Scriptures in the Bible. I have seen it taken out of context and used as an excuse to avoid asking the hard questions about poverty or as an excuse to do nothing. Jesus was not talking about ignoring the poor in this passage. He was not saying that they’ll always be there so therefore we should do nothing to relieve their suffering. He was saying that at that particular moment, what this woman was doing was a reflection of God’s will and timing.
Jesus pointed out that she was anointing his body for burial. He was drawing their attention to the fact that He was going to die! We know through the Scriptures that He was dying for each one of us, but at this moment in the story, people weren’t getting that.
Jesus had a heart for the poor. He reached out to and walked with those who suffered. He called the weak, the sick, the impoverished and even the religious. He called all of them and all of us to a deeper relationship. He called us to love one another, just as he loved us.
He calls us to walk with those less fortunate. To reach out with His love, grace, mercy and hope. If we do otherwise, we miss opportunities to see Him reflected in those around us. I have seen Jesus reflected in the lives of the poor, the needy, the addicted and the afflicted. I have felt the presence of God as a homeless man poured out his heart beside me, sharing his struggles with addictions, fear and faith. I have seen the heart of Jesus reflected in an addict who reaches out in concern for those around him. I have seen the love of Jesus in the actions of the one whom society steps over and ignores.
Yes we have the poor among us today. We also have an opportunity to experience God’s love in a fresh and exciting way. Let’s not miss Jesus.