Today’s gospel (Mark 12:38-44) tells the story of Jesus watching people coming to the temple and making gifts to the treasury. The reading starts with Jesus’ warning, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces . . . they devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
My first reaction when I read this was to smugly assure myself that I’m not one of them: it is other people who pretend to piety but rip people off. I’m certainly not one for long prayers! And I don’t think I devour widows’ houses. But the second part of the reading brought me up short. Here Jesus observes rich people putting in “large sums” to the treasury at the temple, and then a poor widow put in two coins, worth a penny. She had given more, Jesus tells us, because she gave not out of abundance, but out of scarcity. She gave “everything she had”.
Maybe, then I am like the scribes: I haven’t given everything I have, either financially or otherwise. I own a house, travel for pleasure (at times), and give time and attention to things other than God. My job certainly takes up more of my time and attention than God or Church. Church is one of my things, but by no means the only one.
Our congregation has been asked to be more intentional about stewardship. My old church talked about stewardship of “time, talent, and treasure”. What would it mean for me to give, if not everything I have, more of what I have? What can I do that’s sacrificial? Like so many of us, there are many demands on my time. If I am, like the widow, to give “all that I have”, maybe that’s where I need to focus. How can I make more time for God? If I don’t want to be a scribe, I need to think about this.