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THIS POOR WIDOW PUT IN MORE THAN ALL THE OTHERS by Fr. Linh

THIRTY-SECOND SUNDAY – YEAR B

GOSPEL: MARK 12: 38 – 44 

PROUD SCRIBES VERSUS POOR WIDOW

Rev. Linh N. Nguyen

 

There are two parts in this Sunday’s Gospel: 1) proud scribes and 2) poor widow.

 

As we read and think about Jesus’ scornful evaluation of scribes, the teachers of the law, we ought to keep our own behavior in mind. Some of the religious leaders liked the show. They were doing nothing more than playacting, pretending to be religious and righteous. Jesus confronted their lack of heartfelt obedience.

 

Then in the midst of the noisy worshipers, the ring of the widow’s two small coins became a well-expressed example of truth. Her act sharply contrasted with the much more obvious giving of others, and with the scribes who “devoured the houses of widows”. All around her were large examples of meaningless worship, shallow honor given to God, and lighthearted giving. But this woman’s ignored act of sacrifice spoke volumes about herself and her faith.

 

The Proud Scribes:

 

Jesus said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets.”

 

In this passage Jesus makes a series of charges against the Scribes: First, they liked to go around in long robes....” A long flowing robe which swept the ground was a sign of a person of honor. They dressed this way in order to draw attention to themselves and their position.

 

Second, the scribes liked to accept greetings in the marketplaces....” This fact is understandable, since most everyone likes to be shown respect.

 

Third, they liked the seats of honor in synagogues....In the synagogue, in front of the ark where the Torah was kept, there was a bench where the distinguished sat, facing the congregation. Evidently, they liked sitting in the full view of an admiring congregation.

 

Finally, they liked the places of honor at banquets....At banquets, like wedding banquets today, the “honored guest” was invited to sit at the right of the host, the second on the left, etc.

 

In itself, there is nothing so terrible about any of these things, except that it can all corrupt the spirit of humble service that is heart of religion. In short, the scribes had lost sight of their priority as teachers of the law and were enjoying their position merely because of the “perks” it offered. Jesus condemned this attitude.

           

These men devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation.

 

The one thing that most infuriated Jesus is “taking advantage of the poor.” Jesus uses strong words: They will receive a very severe condemnation.

 

The Poor Widow:

 

As Jesus finishes this hard teaching in the Temple against religious abuse, he observes this poor widow, who stands in stark contrast to scribes. No doubt Mark intended this juxtaposition of the self-serving scribes with the self-sacrificing widow to teach a powerful lesson on religion.

 

Jesus sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.

 

It is amusing to hear that Jesus was observing “who puts what” in the collection. Notice that Jesus does not discourage the wealthy putting in “sizable amounts.” But what caught Jesus’ attention and admiration was the poor widow.

 

In Jesus’ time, the words “poor” and “widow” usually went together. With meager resources, a widow’s concern was just living day to day. The two small copper coins she gave were the smallest of all the coins. Scholars say that in today’s economy it was equivalent to two quarters.

 

Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, “Amen, I say to you, 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, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”

 

We do not know how Jesus knew that this woman was a widow. Perhaps her dress revealed it. Perhaps she discussed her contribution and situation with a priest. Or Jesus may have known because of his divine knowledge. As a poor person, she was only required to give one of the coins. Because she gave them both, Jesus used her as an example.

 

One thing we can admire about Jesus is the type of people whom Jesus admires. The kinds of people Jesus admired, his society ignored. They were not the rich and famous, or even the religious leaders. Jesus admired humble and simple people. 

 

As you observe people in church today, whom do you admire? Who do you imagine Jesus would admire today as an example for us? And what are the lessons we need to learn from them?

 


This article was published on Friday 06 November, 2009.

Back to main topic: STUDY THE WORD OF GOD
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WE NEED ADVENT!
WE SAW HIS STAR AT ITS RISING AND HAVE COME TO DO HIM HOMAGE
EMMANUEL – GOD IS WITH US!
THE BLIND BOY AND HIS SIGN
EPIPHANY
WHEN JESUS HAD BEEN BAPTIZED AND WAS PRAYING, HEAVEN WAS OPENED
ALL FLESH SHALL SEE THE SALVATION OF GOD
“WHAT SHOULD WE DO?”
GOD KNEW ME BEFORE I WAS BORN
GOD IS LOVE
THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF THE VIRGIN MARY
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THE LAST EIGHT DAYS IN THE ADVENT SEASON
HIS PARENTS FOUND JESUS SITTING IN THE MIDST OF THE TEACHERS.
MARY – “MOTHER OF GOD”
WHETHER THE BLESSED VIRGIN SHOULD BE CALLED THE MOTHER OF GOD?
THE BAPTISM OF JESUS
WHETHER THE BAPTISM OF JOHN WAS FROM GOD
WHETHER IT WAS FITTING FOR CHRIST TO BE BAPTIZED WITH JOHN’S BAP
JESUS TURNS WATER TO WINE

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