There is complete contrast between the two scenes. In the first, Jesus alerts people about the temple Scribes. Their religion is false: they use it to seek their own glory and to exploit the weak. They should not be admired nor should their example be followed. In the second scene, Jesus observes what a poor widow is doing, and he calls his disciples. They can learn from this woman something that the Scribes can never teach them: complete faith in God and unlimited generosity.
Jesus’ criticism of the Scribes is harsh. Instead of guiding the people toward God to seek his glory, they draw people’s attention to themselves in order to seek their own honor. They like to go around in long robes, looking for greetings and reverences from the people. They seek seats and places of honor in the synagogue liturgies and at banquets.
But there is, without doubt, something that pains Jesus more than this fatuous and puerile behavior of receiving attention, greetings and reverences. While they give appearance of deep piety as they recite lengthy prayers in public, they take advantage of their religious prestige to live off widows, those who, according to biblical tradition, are the weakest and most defenseless in Israel.
Precisely one of these widows exposes the corrupt religion of these religious leaders. Her act has gone unnoticed by everyone, but not by Jesus. The poor woman has only put two small coins into the treasury, but Jesus calls his disciples right away, for it would be difficult to find in the temple environs a heart that is more religious and more in solidarity with those in need.
This widow does not go around looking for honor or any prestige; she acts in a silent and humble way. She is not thinking of exploiting anyone; on the contrary, she gives everything she has because others may need it. According to Jesus she has given more than all the rest, since she does not give what she has in excess but all her livelihood.
Make no mistake. These simple people who, however, have great and generous hearts, who know how to love unreservedly, are the best that we have in the Church. They are the ones who make the world more human, who truly believe in God, who keep Jesus’ Spirit alive in the midst of other false and self-interested religious attitudes. We have to learn from these people how to follow Jesus. They are the ones who are most like him.
November 8, 2015
32 Ordinary Time (B)
Mark 12, 38-44