Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Contrast

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
November 8, 2015

Mark 12:38-44

There is a total contrast between the two scenes. In the first, Jesus puts the people on guard against the scribes of the temple. Their religion is false -- they're using it to seek their own glory and exploit the weakest. They are not to admire them or follow their example. In the second, Jesus observes the gesture of a poor widow and calls his disciples. They can learn something from this woman that the scribes will never teach them -- total faith in God and boundless generosity.

Jesus' criticism of the scribes is harsh. Instead of guiding people towards God, seeking His glory, they are drawing the people's attention to themselves, seeking their own credit. They like to "go around in long robes" seeking people's greetings and bows. In the liturgy in the synagogues and at banquets, they seek "seats of honor" and "top places."

But there's something that undoubtedly hurts Jesus more than this fatuous and childish behavior of being gazed at, saluted and revered. While they put on an appearance of deep piety with their "long prayers" in public, they take advantage of their religious prestige to live at the expense of the widows, the weakest and most helpless beings in Israel according to biblical tradition.

Indeed, one of these widows will expose the corrupt religion of these religious leaders. Her gesture has gone unnoticed by everyone, but not by Jesus. The poor woman has only thrown into the temple treasury two small coins, but Jesus calls his disciples right away as it will be hard for them to find in the temple environment a more religious heart in solidarity with the needy.

This widow isn't seeking any rewards or prestige; she acts quietly and humbly. She doesn't think of exploiting anyone; on the contrary, she gives all she has because others might need it. According to Jesus, she has given more than anyone, since she isn't giving from her surplus but "all she has to live on."

Make no mistake. These simple people with large and generous hearts who know how to love unreservedly, are the best we have in the Church. They're the ones who make the world more humane, who truly believe in God, who keep alive the spirit of Jesus amid other false and self-interested religious attitudes. From these people, we must learn to follow Jesus. They are the ones who are most like him.

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