Grace to you!
Have you ever been in a meeting where participants seem to compete with who has more accomplishments? It is all about them, and how good or accomplished they are? How did you receive those kinds of conversations? How did you feel? Did their praise of themselves win your affection?
There could be gains in showing what one has accomplished. There are places where this may be appropriate. But in matters of deeper and transforming life in Christ, a flamboyant demeanor is a spiritual bottleneck. Putting ourselves on a pedestal, or allowing others to do so for us, is a recipe for spiritual emptiness. We do not heal our insecurities by doing so.
The Lord Jesus uses two classes of people to contrast the way of humble service and ostentatious bravado. The latter he discourages using the example of the Scribe. The former is Saint Mark’s version of the Widow's Mite (see Mk 12:38-44).
Biblical experts, which I am not, could tell us so much about the intricacies of these events. Two things are happening as if in the same day or chronologically. They may give us some background as to why and how the events and teachings were arranged the way they are. They could also go into distinctions of form and historical, textual, and literary criticisms of the text.
As a believer and a person of the simple faith that does incredible miracles, one sees the inspired narratives as arranged in order. As is, they sound like music to the ear and a symphony of incredible divine messages, God's inspired word.
I see the two events as two acts in the implementation of a faith-centered life of service. The first is what not to do as a believer. The second is what to do, the better way to go.
What not to do is the showiness of the sampled Scribes. The Lord says they like to display their claims to moral superiority for public praise. They love places of honor and embrace sycophantic gestures. I would say they are like the politicians who have a knack for PR and public accolades. It is not the way to go in following the Lord. In other words, the way of the gospel calls us to an honest and unassuming lifestyle.
Contrast the above with the recommendations of what to do. It is seen in the example of that poor widow (Mk 12:41-44), who no one noticed but whose offerings to the Lord was a total giving of self from the poverty and lowliness of heart. Saint Luke uses two Greek adjectives to describe this woman. She was not only poor (Lk 21:2); she was utterly destitute (Lk 21:3). One could say she was without hope about sustenance about tomorrow. Her humble disposition could be compared to the Mother of the Lord, whom God exalts from her humble state (Lk 1:48). It is because they do not seek exaltation but selfless love, loyalty, and service they are exalted. Exaltation becomes the fruit of their humble commitments to selfless offerings.
Those acceptable before God learn the great secret that the way to glory is from a humble, lowly state. They are also those who know that loyalty to God entails being broken to self and being ready to pour oneself for a higher cause. Those know that only when what we love so much is set free can it be an incredible asset, a great value to humanity.
God shows us a great model in the Son. Jesus Christ loved his own that he demonstrated it in the self-emptying of the cross. Nothing is lost in a keen sense of selfless sacrifice. But everything is lost in preservation without the risk of emptying unto others. When the values we cherish are lived out or set free, they become transformative; impacting and benefiting others.
Dare to offer your priceless gift of self and values in the humble service of God and others, in whichever way possible. Nothing is lost. Everything is gained. "Those who sow in tears reap with rejoicing" (Ps 126:5).
Praying for the grace to execute in humble service, using the values we cherish. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu.
[Readings, Saturday, Week 9: 2 Timothy 4:1-8; Mk 12:38-44]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.