Archive for August 30th, 2022

Mark 12:35-44: Comparison

James C Christenen: The Widow's Mite

James C. Christensen: The Widow’s Mite

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

As we continue to study the Gospel of Mark, we are struck again by his immediacy and precision; and we see how Jesus turns stark divisions into unifying calls. 

The widow we meet today who gives from her poverty is seen in sharp contrast to the scribes who give from their surplus. Jesus as the son of God is also juxtaposed against those who would be servants but who are more enamored of status, money and place. The obvious lesson here is understood quickly, even by children. The widow’s contribution – small as it is – is worth as much and perhaps even more than the large amount given by others from their surplus; and the widow herself is as valuable, or more, as those who profess great learning and experience. We can see that this portion of Mark’s Gospel asks us to take a deep look to examine our own status, our own motivations, our own spiritual life in Christ. The more obscure lesson is this: We ought not to worry if we only have two cents when come forward to add to God’s treasury . . . God is counting on this small gift to appear and God has a plan for this small gift which we cannot see from where we stand.

My dad, the oldest of eleven, always used to say that when we compare ourselves to others we will always come up way short of some and way ahead of others. He would encourage us to compare what we have done in a day to what we might have done on a good day. He asked that we measure ourselves against our own potential. He directed us to steer well clear of comparing ourselves to others in any way with the words: You have no way of knowing what God knows. And when he himself became frustrated with life and with what he believed to be his own weaknesses, he would often murmur repeatedly in low words: God only knows. Only God knows. God only knows. Only God knows. 

My mother, born the seventh of eleven, was fond of telling us – when we balked at going somewhere we thought we might be bored – Did you ever stop to think that God might have need of you today? Did it ever occur to you that your presence has a purpose even when you do not see it? Maybe you are being asked to bring something you do not realize you have. Go and find out what it is.  And so we would go . . . and we always found out that yes, we had two cents, and they belonged in God’s treasury.

When we believe that the efforts we make are puny in attempting to answer God’s call, we might remember the contributions of the scribes and the widow.

When we fear that we have erred in responding to God’s call, we might remember that Jesus sees all of us, knows our worth and values our gifts accordingly.

When we feel that we have somehow gotten things wrong, that we have misunderstood the instructions we think we hear, we might remember that with God, our two cents are worth worlds . . . because we have come to God, trusted God and loved God.

And so we pray.

Precious God, We know that we often misunderstand messages. We sometimes doubt our ability to hear you clearly. We also know that we ought to be wary of those wearing robes for the sake of show. We sometimes become enamored of the robes ourselves. We always know that when you destroy temples you also rebuild them in days . . . deep within our hearts. Continue to guide us as we filter through the pageantry of life to find that which is worth more than the mere two-cent value it appears to have at first glance. Help us to compare ourselves to our own work rather than to the work of others. Lead us to your way of seeing and thinking. Lead us to your way of trusting and believing. Lead us always back to you. Amen. 

Image from: http://datinggod.org/2010/08/22/today%E2%80%99s-parable-of-the-widow%E2%80%99s-mite/

A favorite from August 23, 2009.

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