This morning I got a phone call (who lets these people near something pointed like a telephone? They could cut themselves!) from someone who wanted to know if I, as a fundamentlist, felt that supporting health care reform was really something that Jesus would do. Valid question. I’ve written in and around the topic. I answered yes, and the person hit me with this verse from Matt. 26:11:
The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.
We used to sling this verse around at the Bedrock We’re Going To Heaven And You’re Not Assurance Church, as if it was a commandment that we allow the society to have its share of poor people.
In fact, the context (love that word) of that verse is that Jesus was probably cracking a funny that no one got. He is at least trying to deflate the over-inflated self-righteousness of his disciples, who were angry that a woman had poured expensive perfume onto Jesus just before the Lord’s Supper, and just before things started to go south for God’s son.
The disciples sniffed that the money that had gone into that perfume could have gone to help the poor, to which Jesus replied that the poor would always be around, but he was on his way out. Rather than asking us to accept poverty, he was saying: Pay attention to what’s at hand. Be a little flexible, why don’t you?
But there’s absolutely nothing in anything Jesus ever said or did that implied we’re to throw up our hands at the plight of the poor, simply because they’ll always be here. To do that — throw up our hands — would, in fact, fly counter to any example set by Jesus. I know because he told me this morning.
I’m kidding about that last part, but there’s nothing in the Christian scriptures that supports turning one’s back on the poor, whether or not you like them, feel you’ve worked your way up and they should, as well, or have an immigration story about your grandparents who came over speaking no English etc.
Thank you. This has been another episode of Ask! A! Fundamentalist! See you next time.
Is the caller possibly even implying that it was a commandment to be fulfilled? That Christians should do what they can to ensure that the “poor are always with us”?
What about Amos 5:11 (and many other verses from Amos and other prophets)? “You trample the poor, stealing their grain through taxes and unfair rent. Therefore, though you build beautiful stone houses, you will never live in them. Though you plant lush vineyards, you will never drink wine from them.”
Stealing it. I don’t read enough of Amos to quote it. Thanks, Sis. Sharon.
It’s a Good Thing.
And for pete’s sake, even this HEATHEN knows about “that which you do unto the least of these (ya think that means the poor?) you do to me” and “do unto others (maybe some poor among them?) as you would have them do unto you.”
Context? Fundamentalists don’t need to stinking context! The plain words of Holy Scripture are enough, even if it’s just half a verse or less!
Oops! should be “No”, not “to.”
No, as in “The party of NO.”
Or a word. We can lose ourselves in a word, too.
“unto the least of these (ya think that means the poor?)”
I seriously doubt if they’re talking about people of small size.
I’ve said this elsewhere but here again: I believe that what Jesus meant in using the term “the least of these,” was “Those whom you consider the least of these.”
After all, Jesus pointed out that not a sparrow falls to the ground without the Big Guy knowing about it.
God, this is beautiful.
P.S. I doubt if “the least of these” means, say, people of diminutive stature.
I chose the verse from Amos because it reminds me of large swaths of Fairfield County.
Amos definitely knew Fairfield County.
Amos 3:15 “I will also smite the winter house together with the summer house; The houses of ivory will also perish And the great houses will come to an end,” Declares the LORD.
Ah, but their winter houses are in Florida and/or the Carribean!
Oh. Well. That’s ok, then.
“…nothing in the Christian scriptures…”
I’m quoting you on that. Just so you know.
Say that it comes from the horse’s….mouth.
OMG! I had actually forgotten that the verse in question was used , at least selectively, to deny using “The LORD’S Money” to directly help the poor yet I heard many a sermon in my c of C days that actually did just that. Shudder!! I guess the compassion of the Methodist I now associate with has “filled my itching ears” so that I no longer recognize “THE TRUTH”! Ugh, what a miserable memory.
Sorry, Bro. Jerry, for coughing that up. I have a remedy for miserable memories, though. Go to the nearest street corner and sing “Jesus Loves Me” as loud as you can. See if any one joins in. They will if you sing it like you mean it.
Sort of like Jews praying on a street corner. Other observant Jews are expected to join in until they have ten, a minyan.
And then what? Can they leave?
Hummm——why not? This neighborhood could use a touch of excentric street life/music—now where did put that old pitch pipe?
Pitch pipe! Oh! My! God! Just reading that makes me happy. Lemme know the corner and I’ll come join you.
I know what a pitch pipe is, and I think I even owned one when I had delusions of learning to play guitar, but knowing didn’t help me.
We had one somewhere around the house because I had a very musical brother.
Last week, Steven Colbert interviewed Fr. James Martin, SJ, who has written The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything. They talked a bit about “social justice.” You can watch the whole episode here:
Mary Matalin is the guest in the second half of the show. She is trying to pass off the “teach a man to fish” proverb as something that Jesus preached. I don’t have a copy of the New Conservative Bible; perhaps someone else can look this up and give us the chapter and verse?
That is not a Jesus quote. And the rest of the quote is “Teach a man to fish, and all he’ll want to do is seat in a boat and drink beer.” Fish 24:7.
Leave a comment