At the risk of stating the obvious, Jesus’ ways are not our ways. I will even go so far as to say that it is as true today as it was when Jesus and the Disciples walked the earth. In today’s Gospel, Jesus uses two examples to show us what not to do and then compares that with an example of his expectation.

The first part of Jesus’s teaching is to beware of those who hold themselves in high esteem. One doesn’t need to look far to see people who feel entitled to the places of honor, who gain wealth at the expense of others, and put on a good front, who seem to have it all together on social media. Jesus is clear that these people will be condemned. 

Remember, the people of Israel were looking for a king. Someone to come in and rearrange the social order so that the Israelites would no longer be subject to the Romans. Jesus is not rearranging the social order, he is completely rewriting it. It isn’t enough to want to be in power or have the seat of honor, Jesus is looking into the heart. Our prayers should not be a pretext, but a plea from the heart, a deepening of our relationship with our Creator.

In the story of the poor widow, we see Jesus respond with warmth and kindness to the poor woman who gave her all. It isn’t about the amount we give, Jesus wants all of us. Do we give of our very selves? Do we prioritize giving or do we only give what is comfortable to give, from what we have leftover after we take care of everything else? 

When asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus told us to love God first, and then to love our neighbor as ourself. In this reading from Mark’s Gospel we see examples of what it looks like when we don’t put God first, when we place ourselves above our neighbors. We can’t help but be moved when our human tendency to put self first is contrasted with the poor widow who gave it all. 

Lord, grant me the humility to give you my all like the poor widow and not hold anything back.

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