Forget the Poor — Anoint Me

by Bill Noorlander

I have a confession to make. I went Catholic Mass on Palm Sunday. Lest anyone think the spirit has moved me, I went because I lost a bet with one of my non-believing brethren.

I took my medicine like a man, and dutifully sat through the service. Truthfully, I spent most of the service wondering things like: “How can this huge building not be taxed?” and “Some of the greatest classical music was written for the Catholic mass, why don’t American Catholics use it?”

“The Poor You Will Always Have With You”

Then through the fog of my own reason I heard the priest read the following from the Gospel of Mark:

While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.

The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.

She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Now this caught my attention: the “people” wanted to sell expensive perfume in order to feed the poor, and Jesus thought it was a better idea to anoint his body with it?!

What Would Jesus Do?

When asking WWJD, aren’t we all suppose to believe that he loves the poor and wants to help them? Yet here he is basically telling the poor to take a hike because his body needs to be properly anointed. Did Jesus really need that perfume?

Doesn’t seem like Jesus acted very Jesusy here.

But what about this “the poor you will always have with you” stuff? Isn’t Jesus part of the three in one all powerful creator God? Doesn’t that mean he can “poof” the poor away in an instant if he wants to? Why doesn’t he?

If Jesus is all powerful, the poor exist because he wants them to exist. Doesn’t seem very worthy of worship.

If Jesus is incapable of raising the poor from poverty, he isn’t all powerful. Doesn’t seem very God-like.

Either way, I’m not putting on my “Sunday best” to go worship him.

Bill Noorlander is a lawyer in Milwaukee, where he live with his wife and four kids. He blogs at Bill Post.

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