Friday, November 6, 2015

Proper 27

Proper 27
8 November 2015
Mark 12:38-44

Jesus is present where His word is taught and preached. Jesus is present where the Sacraments administered. When hymns are sung. And prayers said. But He is also present where money is given for the work of His kingdom.  Such giving is holy. An activity that Jesus willingly observes. He observed that many gave much. The poor widow gave the most!

Jesus sees everything. He sees how much we give.  And our giving is not limited to cash. He sees how we invest our time. He sees how we use our talents. He sees how we employ our gifts. He knows what we value. He sees how we care for others.

Much is not always the most. You may be among those who give much to the church. V.41 If that is so. God be praise. Generous contributions make possible the expansion of the church's work.

Large sums may well be given from a cheerful heat. And for the right reasons. Yet we are not the most generous givers if we have merely contributed out of our abundance. V.44

It won't do to say that we lack abundance. We are still rich. If we have more than we need. To support our body and life. Every gift. Large amounts and small. Are given out of abundance. We have been blessed. Giving out of abundance requires no sacrifice. Jesus sees how much we give. And that much is not always the most. Large contributions do not in themselves make us the most generous givers. It’s not the size of the gift. It’s the attitude of the heart.

Jesus sees the most involved sacrifice. This widow gave voluntarily all that she had. She had so little. "Two mites." (KJV) "Two very small, copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny." (NIV)  Two coins. Which she needed desperately.

This impoverished widow. Why was she poor? Back then. Most were poor. The widows were even more destitute and deprived – of property and possessions. Impoverished and insolvent. Overdrawn and in debt. She was broke and bankrupt. And, it could very well be. She found herself in this horrible condition. At the hands of her own children.

In Mark 7 Jesus takes issues with the religious elitists and their false and petty piety when He says, “You neatly reject the commandment of God in order to set up your tradition. 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever insults his father or mother must be put to death.’ 11 But you say that if anyone tells his father or mother, ‘Whatever help you would have received from me is corban’ (that is, a gift for God), 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like this.” (Vv.9-13)

The Law of Moses required the Hebrew people to “honor” their parents. That term “honor” did not suggest mere “lip service”; it included the idea of caring for them in their various needs. However, they had concocted a scheme to avoid parental responsibility.

“Corban” simply means a gift or offering consecrated to God. Anything over which this word was once pronounced, was irrevocably dedicated to the temple.

They would designate certain of their financial resources as “Corban.” According to the prevailing tradition, one could designate his financial resources as “Corban,” which, practically speaking, was a way of “tagging” them, suggesting, “This money now belongs to God,” and thus was not to be used for personal interests. 

So, for example, the son is sitting on some money. Money set aside to help Mom and Dad. Once the son had pronounced those funds as “Corban”, they were no longer funds earmarked for his parent’s care. It now belonged to God.

Property however had a loophole. Land, so dedicated as belonging to God could be redeemed before the year of jubilee. (See Leviticus 27:16-24) So, the family farm, as an example, could be designated as a Corban gift. It would be dedicated to God. It became a frozen asset. But in fifty years. Long after Mother and Father were gone. At the year of jubilee, the property would revert to family. And the process would start all over again.  

Our Lord condemns the Pharisees for their false doctrine. By their traditions, they had destroyed the commandment, which requires children to honor their father and mother, teaching them to find excuse from helping their parents by the device of pronouncing "Corban" over their goods, thus reserving them to their own selfish use.

Now she had nothing. Nothing left with which to buy even a piece of bread. Yet Jesus knew she would be taken care of by God, in whom she trusted. That's God's economy.

This widow is singled out. She had given more than all the rich put together. She gave her whole living. (Vv.43-44) We have no right to call our grudging little contributions "widow's mites." Do such contributions represent all that we have?

Jesus moves you to voluntary sacrifice. By reminding you, that He willingly gave His all. His vey life for you. He left heaven's glory and became rich for you. He freely bestowed on you forgiveness. And clothed you in His righteousness. By renewing your minds through Word and Spirit so that you give first yourself and then your money, as thank offerings to Him[1] By pointing you to His ample provision of all your needs. [2]

Jesus sees how much you give and that the most involves sacrifice. We are the most generous givers when, regardless of the size of our gift, we contribute sacrificially for the sake of Christ's Church.

Jesus is not dependent on your gifts. Yet He has arranged to carry out His church's work through people just like you. He encourages you to give sacrificially and joyfully.

Jesus sees everything. He sees how much you give.  And your giving is not limited to cash. He sees how you invest your time. He sees how you use your talents. He sees how you employ your gifts. He knows what you value. He sees how you care for others.
Words –1,065
Passive Sentences -10%
Readability –76.3
Reading Leve -4.8

[1] 2.Corinthians 8:2-5; 9:7
[2] - Malachi 3:10; 2 Corinthians 9:8; Philippians 4:19

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