The Holy Gospel: November 11, 2012 (Year B)

Read: Mark 12:38-44

Meditation:  “The Great Contrast”

Artists often convey their message through contrast.  In today’s lesson, Jesus uses the same technique to show us what true religion is.

It’s not walking around in long robes, being greeted in the marketplaces, and having the best seats at church or community events.  Ouch!  So much for religious leaders who define themselves (then or now) along those lines.

Instead, Jesus uses the contrast of the widow, who quietly approached the donation box and put in everything she had.

The contrast is simply this:  true religion is not defined by how we appear, but how we are.  It is always a study in depth, not superficiality. In both cases, Jesus looked beyond what was seen, to what is unseen.  And when he did, the contrast of motives could be clearly seen.

True religion is not determined by our habits, but by our heart.  It’s possible to do “all the right things” and still not give our hearts to God.  The ego will allow us to engage in all sorts of religious events and activities, so long as at the end of the day, we are still in charge of our own lives.

When the religious leaders left the building, they still had their robes to rely on.  When the woman left, all she had to rely on was God.  The religious leaders still had their trappings; the woman only had her trust.  That’s the great contrast.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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