Today’s Gospel paired with the story of the destitute widow who showed hospitality to Elijah highlights God’s care for the poor and the total trust they have in God. But there’s a more difficult message in Mark’s Gospel today. To hear that, we need to proclaim the longer version of the lectionary passage.
After last Sunday’s congenial dialogue between Jesus and the lone agreeable scribe, things quickly intensify. Jesus warns the crowds about scribes who display their self-importance and false public piety while exploiting widows into poverty. Jesus’s condemnation gives us the lens through which we observe the temple activity.Jesus notices that the rich put in only a portion of their excess. But what Jesus draws to our attention to is why they give anything at all. Click To Tweet
Mark contrasts the rich—now seen in connection with the arrogant scribes—with the lowly widow. (We wonder if she is among those mistreated by the scribes.) Jesus notices that the rich put in only a portion of their excess. But what Jesus draws to our attention to is why they give anything at all. Like the scribes, they do it for show, to elevate themselves among the community. However, the widow, here and in the first reading, gives everything she has for the sake of the community. In this sense, she is an image of Jesus.
The hard question we must ask ourselves is this: Is our motivation for the good that we do in line with the scribes or in line with Christ?