Project Description

32B

1 Kings 17:10-16 / Hebrews 9:24-28 / Mark 12:38-44

We have a great story in our Gospel today.

It’s a great story because of
the contrasting characters in it—

it’s a great story because
of its surprise ending.

It’s a great story because it has a hero in it!!

One set of the characters in today’s Gospel
are the religious scribes of Judaism.

Now I’m sure there were some good ones. . .
there are good ones and bad ones in every profession. . .

but the scribes that Jesus tells us about. . .
they wear the black hats. . .

not the white hats.

Scribes were part of the religious elite of Judaism.

They were the experts in the Law. . .
the law of Moses. . .
the Jewish scripture.

To be a scribe. . .
you had to study for years and years. . .
they were highly educated.

Wow, did they know a lot!!!!

If a Jew had a problem. . .

or if a Jew had a theological question. . .

they’d go to the experts. . .
they’d go the scribes.

And they’re social status. . .

They were the big shots!!!

They had the 50-yard line seats
in press box suites. . .
where the finest food and drink was catered in!!!

And when they entered the Temple area. . .

they were like our modern-day celebrities. . .

everyone pointing and whispering. . .

look who it is. . .

look who it is!!!

If they had cameras in those days. . .
the flashes going off in the Temple
would have put a U2 concert to shame!!!

And their social status was reflected
in how they dressed.

Even out in town they would
wear their flowing robes. . .

and full-length prayer shawls
with tassels dangling from everywhere.

They were dressed well enough
to be on the runway of Gucci fashion show!!!

Everyone knew them—
everyone respected them—
everyone wanted to be seen with them.

But as Jesus points out. . .

The 1st-century Jewish celebrities
Just didn’t pass the Divine smell test!!!

They were superficial. . .
Shallow. . .
All show!!!

They talked the talk. . .
but they didn’t walk the walk.

They were all head. . .
and no heart!

They were celebrities without substance!!!

Listen to this:
the scribes weren’t paid per se. . .

they didn’t receive a regular paycheck—
that was forbidden.

So they lived on subsidies instead. . .

a little from the temple treasury. . .
a little from their students. . .
a little from here. . .
a little from there.

So the worst of the scribes. . .

the ones who Jesus is talking about. . .

would embezzle funds set up for the care of widows. . .

or they would freeload on the hospitality of widows. . .

or they would mismanage the estates
or wills of widows so that they would
always be one of the beneficiaries.

And Oh. . .
Oh how they loved their places of honor. . .

Oh. . .
how they loved all their privileges.

In short. . .it was all about them!!!

All show. . .

All show. . .

Just like the rich who Jesus points out who
giving large sums in the temple treasury. . .

but it too was all show, too!!!

Look at how much I give!!!

And on the other hand. . .

Jesus points out a poor. . .
poor widow!!

What a contrast!!!

She was one of the invisible in society. . .

She was one of those who people
stared right through. . .

it’s like she wasn’t even there.

Nobody ever noticed her. . .
they purposely didn’t notice her.

Nobody. . .nobody. . .
wanted to be seen with her.

You see, in those days. . .
when she lost her husband. . .

she lost her name. . .
she lost her financial support. . .
she lost her emotional support. . .
she lost her status. . .

She lost it all. . .

Not only does a widow not sit in the box seats. . .

she just trying to survive. . .
she doesn’t even know there’s a game. . .

unless it’s a place she can go and beg!!!

And what does this “nobody” do. . .
while nobody is watching?

She walks up to the Temple treasury—
she drops in everything she has—

two small pennies. . .
right into plate!!!

That’s all she had!!!

She was completely vulnerable now!!!

She could only rely on one thing. . .

or rather on one person. . .

a divine person!!!

She could only rely on God!!!

So Jesus’ surprise ending!!!

Whose the real scholar of the law. . .
The rich, educated scribes. . .
or the poor, uneducated widow!!!

And the poor widow. . .
is noticed by nobody. . .
but Jesus.

He has a way of noticing nobodies, doesn’t He?

But she’s not a nobody. . .
not in His eyes!!!

You see, in four short days from
this scene in today’s Gospel. . .
Jesus will give his life.

In four short days. . .
Jesus will be nailed and hung from a tree.

In four short days. . .
Jesus will be dead.

So Jesus notices this widow above all. . .
because when He sees her. . .

He sees an image of Himself.

This is how one author put it:

[When He looked at her,]
she reminded him of someone.

It was the end for her. . .

and it was the end for Him too. . .

She withheld nothing from God. . .

and neither did He.

It took one to know one. . .

[It took one to know one!]

When He looked at her
it was like looking in a mirror. . .

at a reflection so clear that
he called his disciples over to see.

“Look!”
“Look,” he said to those who meant to follow him.

“That’s what I’ve been talking about.”

“Look at. . . . . . . . . . . her.” (Taylor, The Preaching Life, 130-131)

You know, I’ve wanted to be a lot of
things at different times in my life.

I’ve wanted to be rich. . .
I’ve wanted to be famous. . .
I’ve wanted to be an intellectual. . .

I’ve wanted to be in control. . .
I’ve wanted to feel secure. . .
and I’ve wanted to be noticed.

I’ve wanted to be a doctor. . .

and I’ve wanted to be a Catholic priest.

But now. . .

now that I’ve gotten a little bit older. . .

and understand the gospel just a little bit more. . .

I mainly. . . I mainly. . .
want to be just like the widow. . .
the Biblical hero. . . that Jesus himself notices. . .
and points out to others to imitate!!!

She withheld nothing from God—
Neither did He!!!
It took one to know one.

When he looked at her
it was like looking in a mirror. . .

at a reflection so clear
that he called his disciples over to see.

“Look,” he said . . .
“That’s what I’ve been talking about.”
“Look at. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .her.” (Barbara Taylor, The Preaching Life, 130-131)

Holy Spirit 11/06-07/2021