Saturday, July 02, 2005


Extraordinarily, there are still Christians who quote Jesus' dictum that "the poor will remain with you" (usually translated as "the poor you will always have with you") as a rationale for inaction or even hostility to initiatives like Make Poverty History.

The context of this statement in St Matthew is, of course, Jesus' affirmation of the action of one particular marginalised woman who was being mocked by the religious authorities -- while they, at the same time, were side-stepping their own obligations to those in need.

As his hearers would have understood, Jesus is quoting from Deuteronomic texts which posit the continued persistence of poverty in the land as the fruit of the refusal of justice, and hold out a very different kind of hope for those who will listen and act. There was a good piece on this by Bryant Myers on SojoNet recently.

"There should be no poor among you," states the Jewish law in Deuteronomy 15.4. The continuing blemish of poverty in an an age of affluence is the largest moral judgement against us.

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