Reflection on Gospel of Mark 12:38-44: Twenty Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

 November 7, 2021

Gospel of Mark 12:38-44

As Jesus taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

He sat down opposite the treasury and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you; this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”

Let us pray: Grant that as we serve you now on earth, so we may one day rejoice with all the saints in your kingdom of light and peace, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The scribes are portrayed as all about themselves. They want to be seen. They want to be congratulated. They want to be well-thought of. They want people saying good things about them in their faces and behind their backs. They are, Jesus says, totally self-absorbed. These are some of the religious leaders! At least they are the pretending to be professional religious leaders. And then there is the widow. Could there be a picture of someone more selfless than her? She doesn’t give out of her abundance, what’s left over, she gives from the very depths of her existence. Her giving is selfless sacrifice, almost all she had. This Gospel lesson is about the kind of faith that we are supposed to have, and the kind of faith that we aren’t. The faith of Jesus Christ isn’t a shallow faith. It’s a faith that digs deep, a faith which is sacrificial, a faith which bears the cross. In short, the faith of Jesus Christ isn’t about us. It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s about what we give to God. And it’s about the amazing riches that God gives in return. It’s about a God who isn’t self-absorbed, a Christ that isn’t self-absorbed, and faithful Christians who aren’t self-absorbed. Today all of us are to be the windows, we are to be loving, living, and giving followers of Jesus. We cannot be self- centered like the scribes. They were more concerned about their status, not bothering to help the poor, the lost, or those who sinned. They reveled when people held them in high esteem. We know even today that power can encourage corruption, and the scribes who were held in high esteem were tempted toward corruption. When people look up to us, we start to feel and believe that we are better than we truly are. Jesus was an advocate for humility, and he worked and spoke in a quiet mode unlike the scribes.

Jesus had been watching the treasury and watched the crowd put in their money. Many put in large sums, then a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, those two coins most likely were a significant part of the amount of money she had to spend. Jesus then praises the poor widow as she gave freely and unselfishly. She wanted to do her part.

As we think about out gifts in regard to time, Talent, and treasure are we generous as the poor widow was, or do we put in large sums and make sure whoever is watching knows what we have done as the scribes made sure everyone knew of their contributions. The one contribution that is also very important is your time. It may be easier to give a donation rather than spend an afternoon with someone who is lonely or ill. Many of us would rather give money than to give our time. Time often is the most precious commodity we have. Yet, we are surrounded by people who are in need and who would be extremely grateful for a few minutes of our precious time and attention. Remember on some days, we may be the person who yearns for someone’s attention and care. Perhaps if we share our “two cents” with others, it will return to us! Who knows? The individual we spend our time with may be our gift for the day! The widow becomes a symbol of self-giving and total-emptiness and this poor widow becomes a great challenge for us in our lives. Each of us should become an inspiration, sharing our strength and our hope!

Let us Pray: We pray that you accept us as people who pattern our lives after Our Lord Jesus, people who do not hold back when we are able to give of our time, talent, and treasure. And people who give of their time to help those who are in need of a helping hand and listening ear.  This we pray in your Name our Lord and savior. Amen

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