Proper 27

November 12, 2000
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17
Reading 2: 
Psalm 127
Reading 3: 
Hebrews 9:24-28
Reading 4: 
Mark 12:38-44
By Patricia Farmer

Mark 12:38-44

So what's most important? Part II. This week the focus is on a widow who practiced the greatest commandment. We have an example of someone who loves God with ALL her heart, soul, mind and strength. (Mark 12:38-44).

What's most important and who's most important? A process world view would place relationships of love, justice and beauty before anything else. In our world view, "God's power . . . works to lure the whole creation: to bring enriching diversity and intensity out of struggle; to overcome destructive conflict with greater harmonies; to redeem the evil wrought in death and disaster with new life." This relational vision does not place value in the coercive religious and cultural forces of Jesus day which sought to keep the widow impoverished and without any security. Rather, a relational view sees the widow through Jesus' eye, as a counter cultural icon of pure love and trust in something beyond herself.

I live in Southern California and sometimes I even run into celebrities! (Ask me about meeting Fabio on Sunset Strip.) Our California culture is based on image, good looks (plastic or real), and fame. These are the things that make one important. Entertainment Tonight would confirm that the most important people are in the music or film industry. Political figures may be important too, especially if they are attractive and make good jokes and have a lot of money behind them. While it's really easy to fall into this mind set when I go to the Estee Lauder counter at Macy's and feel compelled by the woman at the counter to get the new night cream OR ELSE (very, very bad), I realize that I have to be careful here.

What's most important? Who's most important? Being a minister I go into a lot of nursing homes, and I'll tell you that our society does not believe that the elderly are most important. One of my parishioners was recently beaten by an orderly and died of the wounds inflicted. Elder abuse is working on the case now with the police. I wonder what would happen if we valued the elderly rather than the glittering images of those we see on TV?

The scribes during Jesus day were like the celebrities, strutting around looking good in the temple, dropping in their money for show, while the invisible, poor woman is much like the invisible people I see in the nursing homes. No one pays them much attention. And this woman only has what might be equivalent to only a penny. One penny! And she gives it to God. That's what catches the eye of Jesus, not the economic worth the contribution but the love with which it is given. Sacrificing her security for her love of God was a value that the scribes could not understand. Good grief, I cannot even understand it! I would have held out for sure, but this woman's love for God exceeded any normal selfish person's common sense.

And Jesus saw himself in her. She was the one whom he chose to be a role model for the disciples, not the affluent, showy scribes. Thank God our society is not as corrupt toward widows today, but we do have homeless people and those in horrible situations in the nursing homes who are invisible, forgotten. We need to look at them and not turn away because of their poverty. Perhaps we can see them differently, taking off our culturally biased "Affluenza" glasses and see the true beauty that lies in "the least of these."

And in our own lives, we could at least try to follow even a fraction of the woman's sacrifice, and put our love for God and others--the common good of all--above personal wealth and security. Nothing could be more transforming for us who believe in a relational view of reality!