Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our Gospel for this week is from Mark 12:38-44. It would be very easy to skip directly to verse 41. After all, the last four verses are relatively easy to deal with. God honors the trust shown by giving even when we have limited means.
Does this idea tie directly to the earlier three verses? Maybe someone will put in a comment pointing me to a connection. There is a bridge with the idea of widows, but verse 40 speaks against taking from widows and verse 43 commends the idea of widows giving. I am inclined to say the paragraph break is a relatively large break and that Mark is telling us about something different.
So, in verses 38-40 Jesus warns against the scribes. They have clothing that signifies rank. They expect to be treated with honor. They take even the few resources held by elderly women. They speak just to be heard. My question is whether this is best applied to people today who are overtly religious. In some instances, it does apply. I think particularly of those who preach (and live) a “prosperity gospel.” Some have made themselves wealthy and expect to be treated as nobility because they view themselves as God’s messengers.
In contrast, I think the passage is sometimes wrongly applied. I’ who normally wear a clerical collar at work, have been accused of being like the scribes. And I do wear a long robe when conducting a church service. Sometimes people treat me with honor and dference. Sometimes not. Really, I just want the coffee I bought to be hot and fresh, and you could repay my courtesy with yours.
What I aim to say is that identifying these scribes is not as easy as it seems. One could make an argument that if Jesus were speaking to our community today he would speak of academic or political elites as he did of the scribes. You choose the discipline or the party. The figures may be those we should avoid. Some would want to be honored because of their alignment, and then would use that honor to silence or harm others.
If the shoe fits, beware of the person. If it fits you or me, lt’s take it off and use our positions, our honor, our “privilege,” for the good of our world.
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