November 11, 2012

Throughout the New Testament, Jesus scolds the Scribes and Pharisees. His complaint is that they interpret the religious life as one of show and not of spirituality. He says they are like "white washed tombs," polished on the outside but full of filth on the inside, or like dirty cups, clean on the outside but full of grime on the inside. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6), Jesus contrasts the Scribes and Pharisees with the proper practice of spiritual disciplines (prayer, giving, fasting). He suggests we make our religion an expression of the heart, and not a display for the world. In the text for Sunday, Mark 12:38-44, Jesus talks about the inner attitude of giving. He notes the economic disparity of the rich and how they take advantage of the poor, and how they display their wealth by their public giving. He contrasts this with a poor widowed woman who gave two copper coins (worth about a penny). He said she gave more than all the others. Critically important in our giving is less the amount and more the spirit with which we give.