The poor will be with you always

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/97/William_Holman_Hunt_-_Isabella_and_the_Pot_of_Basil.jpg/363px-William_Holman_Hunt_-_Isabella_and_the_Pot_of_Basil.jpg-So we needn’t bother trying to help?

At the house of Simon the Leper, or Lazarus, at Bethany, an unnamed woman, or Mary, who was Jesus’ friend and Lazarus’ sister, pours pure nard, an expensive perfume, on Jesus’ head. The disciples, some of those present, or Judas Iscariot object, saying the perfume could have been sold for a large amount, and the money given to the poor. Jesus said,

The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. In Mark, he adds, and you can help them any time you want. The perfume was for his burial. Matthew and Mark then tell of Judas agreeing to betray Jesus. John says Judas was a thief, who would have taken that money.

Footnotes refer us to Deuteronomy 15:11: There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open-handed towards your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.

Work like you don’t need the money.
Love like you’ve never been hurt.
Dance like nobody’s watching.
Sing like it’s Heaven on Earth

We may always give to the Poor, but this could only be done now. It is a Sign of beautiful, extravagant Love, or a Sign that Jesus will die.

Menis Yousry told us to listen to the cabin crew when next we fly: when the oxygen masks drop down, put your own on first, or you will be unable to help anyone else with theirs. I thought of GJ, the Wise Woman in Top of the Lake, who speaks so contemptuously of her followers- first they look for love, and can’t find it, so they look for Enlightenment, and they don’t find that either.

So you’re on your knees? Good. Now die to yourself. To your idea of yourself. Everything you think you are, you’re not. What’s left? Find out.

Stop. Stop thinking. –What are these crazy bitches doing? Meditating? You’ve got to work. No-one will pay you for closing your eyes.

You people all want to help someone. That one wants to help Africa. Help yourself first.

Why should I tell you when you don’t listen? All you hear are your own crazy thoughts, like a river of shit, on and on. See your thoughts for what they are. Stop your helping. Stop your planning. Give up. There’s no way out. Not for others, not for you. We are living out here at the end of the road, in a place called paradise. How’s it going? Perfect? No. You are madder than ever. You are tired? So lie down right here. Be like a cat. Heal yourself. There is no match for the tremendous intelligence of the body. Rest.

I copy it out, because I am thinking about Enlightenment.

15 thoughts on “The poor will be with you always

    • He was talking about the Pope. He wanted to hear more about condoms being Sinful, or gay marriage being Against the Will of God, or something.

      That was indeed the inspiration starting this post, which I found through your blog. Jesus is not pro-riches: The rich man and the eye of the needle, the rich man and Lazarus, Sell all you have and give to the Poor. In Luke, there is also Mary’s song:

      He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
      and exalted the meek
      He has filled the hungry with good things
      and the rich he has sent empty away.

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  1. I loved what GJ had to say in Top of the Lake. She was dismissed by many of the locals as a nutter, they questioned her sexuality, didn’t accept her difference. And yet they had much of which to be afraid right inside themselves. As for the women that followed her around like lost dogs, they put her on a pedestal and as she so rightly said, never truly listened to what she had to say. I’m not sure who she despised more.

    “Die to yourself” – a brilliant reminder that all we believe of ourselves is really just a figment of our ever-noisy imaginations.

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    • “Stop thinking”, said GJ, and one of the “crazy bitches” whispered to herself, “stop thinking”- remember the rule, stop thinking, as if she can pull her-self forward, like that. She is where I am. I get it, I suppose, in part. I see there is something there.

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    • In Matthew: 26:11b, but you will not always have me. But consider, 28:20b: And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Confused already?

      I find “helping the poor” to be the thing GJ criticises, shoring up who I think I am rather than dying to it. Hypocritical, narcissistic, selfish, perhaps, or doing ones best under difficult circumstances, with some good effect. I prefer to see the breaking of the jar as insane generosity, and it is a Sign of the End, if we wish.

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  2. Helping other people is both creative and challenging (which is the meaning of life). That’s the only real reason to do it. Life would be pretty boring if you had nothing to accomplish. So, charity is like a side project or a hobby, and the poor grow up like a tree you planted in your backyard.

    Besides, sometimes you just have money lying around that you can’t think of anything to do with, so you might as well just give it to someone else who might have use for it. (I did this once, with $5000.)

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    • Welcome, Matthew, and thank you for commenting.

      Your two comments here pleasantly surprise me. Above, there is a joke, and here you say something positive: helping is creative and challenging. You get something out of it. I am glad. But your comment sent me immediately to Edwin Muir:

      He heals the sick to show his conjuring skill,
      vexed only by the cure.

      I find your own comment policy a counsel of despair. I disabled comments on this blog after finding that it was mostly people who disagreed who were motivated enough to write anything back, which would have introduced a bias in the opposite way that I intended (my own). Why would that matter? What we do here is ephemeral. My friends either ignore my blog, or like it (not “Like” it). I find a lot of what you write repellent: no, of course a pelvic exam is not rape, that is entirely ridiculous. The gynaecologist who examined me was gentle and reassuring and caring. But had I commented thus on your blog, it would have been an engagement with what you had to say, rather than a mere “You are wrong” assertion. These can lead to greater understanding, if you are open to it.

      Why not allow comments, and delete most of them, keeping the ones you can engage with usefully?

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