Gospel Lesson for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time: Mark 12:38-44
38 As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! 40 They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”41 He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43 Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44 For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
Mark writes conflicting stories to create an understanding “in between.” The widow did not put in more than the wealthy! In fact, two copper coins were so valueless that she couldn’t have bought anything with them anyway. Both wealthy and poor were making donations to a corrupt temple that would be destroyed in a few years, so they were giving to nothing. This is not about the temple. And the scribes could well have been tithing which is commendable.
These stories are not about “how much.” These stories call us to examine our motivation. Why did they give? To impress? Feel good about themselves? Or because they loved God? A generous gift and a modest gift are the same if given faithfully and gratefully to God.
Peace to you, Keith