NOVEMBER 7. Ord Time B. Wk 32. Sun. 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.’
Today Christ is highlighting the difference between what the Pharisees do, and what they profess, in that they want to be seen as those who uphold the law of Moses, and be greeted obsequiously in the marketplace; - while, at the same time ‘swallowing the property of widows’
The teaching he wants to convey is it is dangerous to judge people by appearances, a truth easily overlooked and ignored even today. He then goes on to demonstrate the teaching by sitting down opposite the treasury where people came to give money for the temple.
Many came giving large amounts of money; - but then a poor widow came with only two small coins; - a situation he then used to illustrate his teaching: ‘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.’
We have to remember; - Christ is not talking about the amount of money being given; - but the sentiments of the heart; - which we often overlook when we assess the actions of others. How quickly we assess and condemn on observing others; - but when it comes to our own actions, we take a much more generous approach; - showing both mercy and understanding.
It is interesting to ponder the difference here, between how we treat; - and judge; - others, and how we show mercy and understanding towards our own actions. It raises a real issue in that we need to be able to explain the discrepancy between how we judge, and condemn others so readily, while excusing many of our own actions.
What Christ is revealing to us today is his ability to read the heart, firstly of the scribes, then the wealthy doners, and then the poor widow; - with the intention of demonstrating to us how he is able to read our own hearts, accurately, when it comes to our being harsh in judging others now; - and then again at our final judgement!
And after reflecting on the discrepancy in our own actions we then have to go to the lessons within the Gospels because, as Christians, we need to be constantly reminding ourselves we are called to imitate Christ in how he treated all people; - be they his friends, his enemies or sinners!
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!” - “Woman, has no one condemned you? – no one Lord; - then neither do I condemn you; - go, and do not sin anymore!”
Gospel Acclamation Matthew 5:3
Happy the poor in spirit;
the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
1 Kings 17:10-16 'Jar of meal shall not be spent, jug of oil shall not be emptied'
Elijah the Prophet went off to Sidon. And when he reached the city gate, there was a widow gathering sticks; addressing her he said, ‘Please bring me a little water in a vessel for me to drink.’ She was setting off to bring it when he called after her. ‘Please’ he said ‘bring me a scrap of bread in your hand.’ ‘As the Lord your God lives,’ she replied ‘I have no baked bread, but only a handful of meal in a jar and a little oil in a jug; I am just gathering a stick or two to go and prepare this for myself and my son to eat, and then we shall die.’ But Elijah said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, go and do as you have said; but first make a little scone of it for me and bring it to me, and then make some for yourself and for your son. For thus the Lord speaks, the God of Israel:
“Jar of meal shall not be spent,
jug of oil shall not be emptied,
before the day when the Lord sends
rain on the face of the earth.”’
The woman went and did as Elijah told her and they ate the food, she, himself and her son. The jar of meal was not spent nor the jug of oil emptied, just as the Lord had foretold through Elijah.