Click Map for Details

Flag Counter

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Words and Deeds

Matthew 26:6-13 NIV

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

"A society that puts equality -- in the sense of equality of outcome -- ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests." (Milton Friedman)

Jesus said to his disciples “that the poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.” He could just as well have said, the sick you will always have with you, injustice you will always have with fact suffering of all sorts you will always have with you. The question is: Was Jesus's remark a cue for inaction and complacency in the face of suffering? All his ministry among the outcast and downtrodden, it is worth remembering, showed just the opposite. Now Milton Friedman says that to use force to achieve equality will destroy freedom. This conclusion is patently untrue. On a daily basis in the United States the police power of the state enforces the American premise of “equality before the law.” In fact, without this use of force our freedom would be impossible. As an economist his intention was probably to say that enforced economic equality will destroy freedom. This is a red herring. Very few if any Americans call for economic equality. And very few call for government ownership of the means of production. Yet, one need not call for economic equality or socialism to wish to lessen the egregiously lopsided distribution of wealth in America. It is becoming abundantly clear that in capitalism wealth is filtered by a relative few despite wealth's widespread sources and creators. Capitalism alone, while a positive contributor to the general welfare as an economic engine, is a necessary but insufficient condition to realize economic justice. Does Jesus's remark that “the poor will always be with you” suggest that change in economic structures are not ever to be made? I don't think so any more than I think suffering in any form should be taken with bland resignation and cynicism. This is counter to the nature of love. America has not yet “grown up” and become cynical as regards justice—social or economic. It continues to remain true to its essentially Christian mission of mutual regard and concern.

Print Page