Friday 18 March 2016

Bible Book:

“Beware of the scribes… They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers” (vv. 38, 40).

Mark 12:38-44 Friday 18 March 2016

Psalm: Psalm 64


Throughout the Bible, we encounter a number of widows who play avital role as individuals in the story (such as the prophet Anna,who is one of the first to recognise in the baby Jesus the one whowould bring about "the redemption of Jerusalem" - Luke 2:36-38).Collectively, however, widows embody at least two key themes thatrun like threads through the tapestry of both the Old and NewTestaments.

First (along with 'the fatherless'), they represent thevulnerable in society - those for whom a husband's death is likelyto have meant a loss of income and identity, and who deserve ourprotection. When laying down the rules for a society built on graceand compassion, God makes clear that the welfare of widows andorphans is the collective responsibility of the community (eg Exodus22:22; Deuteronomy 10:17-18). In this passage, Jesusindicates that those entrusted with responsibility for teaching andmodelling this way of life had lost sight of these priorities andinstead "devour widows' houses" for their own gain.

The second thread is a reminder of the value of the generosityof those who appear to us to have so little to give. In 1Kings 17:8-16, another unnamed widow feeds the prophet Elijah(not only a stranger, but a man feared and hated by theauthorities) with bread that was intended to serve as a final mealfor her and her son before they starved to death. In Mark12:41-44, the widow "out of her poverty" (v. 44) gave two smallcoins, indicated by Jesus to hold much greater value than the farlarger sums contributed by the rich. Both women, unnamed andoverlooked within society, take us by surprise with their radicalhospitality and generosity. Jesus makes clear that this generosityis not overlooked by God.

To Ponder

  • Take a look at the Joint Public Issues Team's work on the Enough campaign. What can we do today to honourour responsibilities towards 'the widows and the fatherless' (ortheir equivalent)?
  • What does this story say about the way we give financially tothe Church? How much is 'enough'? Do we use the right measures todefine 'enough'?
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