Thursday, November 08, 2012

Thursday November 7, 2012

Today’s text

Mark 12:39-44

In his teaching he [Jesus] said, 'Beware of the scribed who like to walk about in long robes, to be greeted respectfully in the market squares, to take the front seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets; these are the men who devour the property of widows and for show offer long 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, 'In truth I tell you, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury; for they have all put in money they could spare, but she in her poverty has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.'


Who is rich and who is poor? Who is full and who is empty? Jesus turns everything upside down. Or does he simply open our eyes to the truth that is always there?

There are those, scribes Jesus calls them, who are full of themselves. They have had good educations and are honored for their study and significant knowledge. They are sought for answers in matters of law, property and faith.

They were long robes; like clergy, I am fond of saying. They sit up front where everyone can see and admire them, as if they were born--or made themselves--a cut above. They seek to live on their pedestals.

They obtain wealth and property for themselves. Getting people to give to them and their work is more important to them than the needs of those they fleece.

There is hypocrisy here, a wide divide between what they say about the God of justice and righteousness’ and the ways they live. But this only scratches the surface.

There’s a deeper, spiritual malady corroding their souls. They are empty.

They appear to be full of themselves, but they are hollow and shallow--and they fear their own emptiness.

They imagine that they are what others think of them, how others see them. They … who they really are … is defined by how others see them, and they do their best to influence those opinions, seeking honor, respect and deference for whatever knowledge and importance they gather from outside sources.

It is as if they are empty husks, clothed in finery. Their appearance is false. It hides a soul afraid of itself, fearing it is only what others say; unaware that it is … or can be … so much more.

Their spiritual emptiness produces constant anxiety to make themselves look good, to justify themselves, to get more of whatever they think they need to clothe their nakedness. If that means getting more from the poor and those already oppressed, so be it.

They don’t really see others. They see only that which they think they need, and they feel themselves poor until they get it.

Ironically, it is the poor woman, the widow is rich. She is full. She gives from the fullness of a heart who knows a great love within, not a great emptiness, a great hunger to share, not a deep craving to get more.

She is a soul of depth and beauty, not a finely clothed but empty shell.

Any parent or grandparent who has held an infant or young child and been filled with love, knowing they would do anything… anything to protect and care for this tender life … anyone who has felt this understands the widow.

They are this widow, this soul, for they know the fullness of heart that makes us truly alive, truly human. They know the hunger to give oneself away for the sake of love alone, which is the fulfillment of our humanity.

They are full. This inner awareness of the fullness of love is actually the awareness of the fullness of God within our souls. It is what we are born to know so that we might live from the fullness of our hearts, no longer calculating or anxious about how others see us of what they saw about us.

All that matters is living the love within, giving the gifts and graces we hunger to give, living outside that soul that we are, knowing we are not empty at all.

Such freedom comes only in the presence of invincible love. We become the widow when the Invincible Love of God that fills Christ comes and fills us, welling up within and creating that ‘divine must,’ that ‘holy urgency’ to give yourself, to give your gifts, to give such grace as is in you.

Pr. David L. Miller

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