Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back. Luke 6:38
whose blessed Son came into the world
that he might destroy the works of evil
and make us your children and heirs of
eternal life: grant that, having this hope,
we may purify ourselves as he is pure;
that, when he comes again with power
and great glory,
we may be made like him in his eternal
and glorious kingdom;
where he lives and reigns with you and the
Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
- Ruth 3:1-5, 4:3-17
- Psalm 127
- Hebrews 9:(19-22) 23-28
- Mark 12:38-44
- 1 Samuel 1:4-20
- The Song of Hannah
- Hebrews 10:11-14, 19-25
- Mark 13:1-11
A Thought to Ponder
Pentecost 24 – Mark 12:38-44
“Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honour in synagogues, and places of honour at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext recite lengthy prayers.”
“This poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty …”
Preaching in the Jerusalem temple days before the Last Supper and his crucifixion, Jesus indicts the scribes for their lavish but empty show of faith. The scribes, in their haughty and arrogant attitude, are the antithesis of what Jesus wants his disciples to be.
In Jesus’ time, scribes, as the accepted experts of the Law, could serve as trustees of a widow’s estate. They took a portion of the estate, as their fee. Obviously, scribes with a reputation for piety were often entrusted with this role. With their ability to manipulate the interpretations of the Law to their advantage, the system was rife with abuse.
Throughout Scripture, widows were portrayed as the supreme examples of the destitute and powerless (today’s first reading from the 1 Kings is an example). Jesus again makes a considerable impact on his hearers, then, by lifting up a widow who has nothing as an example of faithful generosity. Only that which is given not from our abundance but from our own need and poverty – and given totally, completely, humbly, and joyfully – is a gift fitting for God.
The kingdom of God is realised only in our embracing Christ’s spirit of servanthood: servanthood that finds fulfillment and satisfaction in the love, compassion and kindness we can extend to others, that enables us to place the common good and the needs of others above our own wants and narrow interests.
Greatness in the reign of God is not measured by what is in our portfolios, bank accounts or resumes, but by the love in our hearts that directs the use and sharing of those gifts.
The faithful disciple honours the dignity of the servant above the power of the rich, canonises humility over celebrity and is inspired by the total generosity of the widow rather than the empty gestures of the scribe.
The widow’s “reckless” giving from her poverty rather than from her abundance challenges our concept of carefully planned, tax deductible, convenient and painless giving. Jesus’ concept of charity is centred in the kind of total and unconditional love that makes such sacrificial giving a joy.
In the economy of God, numbers are not the true value of giving: it is what we give from our want, not from our extra, that reflects what we truly value, what good we actually want to accomplish, what we really want our lives and world to be.
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