JUNE 5. Ord Time B. Wk 9. Sat. Mk 12. 38-44
In his teaching Jesus said, ‘Beware of the scribes who like to walk about in long robes, to be greeted obsequiously in the market squares, to take the front seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets; these are the men who swallow the property of widows, while making a show of lengthy prayers. The more severe will be the sentence they receive.’
He sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the treasury, and many of the rich put in a great deal. A poor widow came and put in two small coins, the equivalent of a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘I tell you solemnly, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury; for they have all put in money they had over, but she from the little she had has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.’
This gospel is more about one’s desires and values than the amount of money being given. Jesus refers to the values the scribes held when he said "They like to walk about in long robes, to be greeted obsequiously in the market squares, to take the front seat in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets.”
And before we condemn this type of behaviour outright, we need to pause and look into our own heart. Are there no desires within it for “success” in the eyes of those around us; - or for “comfort” or “consolation” in our day-to-day life; - or to “not to be disturbed” by those around us?
These are all values and desires Christ spoke out against, and I think they linger in the hearts of most of us; - even those who profess to be followers of Christ?
And the problem for us, if such “values” do have a place in our hearts, is they disturb our inner peace when Christ presents us with suffering or the Cross in one form or another. Such values, or desires impact negatively on us in such circumstances, or when we are called on to be generous towards God or neighbour.
In contrast, Christ highlights a poor widow who held no such values or desires. She came into the temple and gave everything she had!
The lesson here is that if we do hold in our hearts desires or values that are contrary to the values lived, and taught by Christ, such desires will have a negative impact on us when we are asked to give or to embrace suffering.
The difference in attitude and values, between the poor widow and the scribes, is what Christ is highlighting in today’s Gospel, and he makes this very clear when he says:
“I tell you solemnly, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury; for they have all put in money they had over, but she from the little she had has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.” And he said this despite, at the outset, making it clear “many of the rich put in a great deal!”
The lesson here goes well beyond the amount of money. It applies equally to the multiple desires we hold in our hearts that impact negatively on the practice of the virtues, such as Humility, Charity, Self-denial, Patience, Compassion etc. The widow held no such desires!
Gospel Acclamation Mt5:3
Happy the poor in spirit:
the kingdom of heaven is theirs!