Meditation written and read by Cathy Tamsberg.
Our Gospel lectionary text for today (John 12:1-8) includes a verse I believe is the most harmful thing Jesus ever said. I understand why he said it, but I wish he hadn’t. There must have been another way he could have responded to Judas’ complaint about the cost of the perfume. Surely there were other ways to support Mary’s gracious act of washing his feet. But, no, Jesus had to say this: “You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” Easily understood in context, this verse has been used for generations as an excuse for not worrying about the poor. That’s not what Jesus meant, of course. He meant that this expensive treat was preparation for his upcoming burial and that Mary’s act of using the costly perfume to wash his feet was a generous and loving thing to do.
We at Pullen understand that we are called to a ministry that feeds, heals, and supports those without resources and challenges governments and society through advocacy for systemic change. We are called to have not only a vision but also a voice, says Sister Joan Chittister. We are called “not only to care for the victims of the world but to change the systems that victimize them.” This is our task as we follow Jesus and his friends through Lent and into the future.
In her book In the Heart of the Temple: My Spiritual Vision for Today’s World, Sister Joan tells one of the stories of the Desert Mothers and Fathers:
Daily the lame and the beggars and the beaten came past the seeker’s prayer rug. Seeing them, the seeker went down deep into prayer and cried, “Great God! If you are such a great God, how is it that a loving creator can see such things and do nothing about them?” And out of the long silence, the voice of God came back: “I did something about them. I made you.”
Consider today where you can use your gifts and resources as an offering to relieve poverty so that someday the poor will no longer be with us.
This meditation is from “Lent: Sowing Season, Holy Time,” a collection of daily readings by Associate Pastor Cathy Tamsberg. Each day during Lent, from Ash Wednesday, February 13, 2013, to Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013, a new excerpt read by a member of the Pullen congregation will be made available. To hear each day’s reading as it is published, subscribe to Pullen’s RSS feed, or listen to the podcast in iTunes.