Sunday, January 6, 2013

Money and Priority (Year B, Proper 27)

Mark 12: 38-44

Recently, a young foster child was having quite a tantrum. He was angry with me. He wanted me to buy him an expensive piece of electronics. I had said, “No” and he didn’t like that!

After throwing a few insults my way finally he shouted, “Well if you didn’t buy healthy food then you would have enough money to buy me this.”

I thought of this little incident when I read this morning’s passage. I have heard this passage spiritualized, but I think that is just avoiding the issue. I think we need to deal honestly with the more difficult passages. Here, clearly Jesus is talking about material wealth.

Jesus is talking about a widow who gave pennies but it was everything, her livelihood. This is contrasted with the wealthy scribes who put in out of their abundance but still had loads to continue their rich life style. Whatever side of the house you fall on you have to admit this sounds like some recent political discussions . . . but I’ll say no more about that!

Today I want to think about this text in two ways.

The first way is illustrated by my little story. Where we put our money shows where our priority lies. What we spend our money on shows what we consider important. In this child’s eyes my buying healthy food was more important than electronics, although he would have preferred it the other way round.

Yet what it shows is the things we support/buy reflect our heart. They may, and probably will, be different for all of us. I don’t want to give details but I want to illustrate this. As you all know Andy and I are concerned for the treatment of non-human animals. This is reflected in some our giving. One of the things we do is to sponsor a pig, a lamb and some turkeys to live full and happy lives at a farm sanctuary. As the old saying goes, “put your money where your mouth is”. In other words don’t just talk about being concerned for various things but use your resources, however meager, to support them.

The second way of thinking about this illustrates again the gospel’s burden of concern for those less fortunate than ourselves. This includes very strong condemnation of those who try to make themselves look good while harming others. There is also condemnation for those who get rich at the expense of others. We need to be careful and aware of those around us. We want to do no harm to those less fortunate.

I don’t want to say any more. I think this passage is one to cause self-reflection about how we use all that God has given us. It is an opportunity to consider our lifestyles and the things we support. We want to have the heart of the widow not the heart of the scribes. We want to reflect our community value of generosity.