The Gospel today is in two parts. The first part is a condemnation of the Scribes, the latter is great praise for the widow.
Mathew and Luke attack the Pharisees. Mark saves his criticism for the Scribes – their clothes, their being greeted obsequiously in public, their front seats in church and places of honour at banquets. Jesus contrasts their external behaviour with ‘swallowing up the property of widows and making a show of lengthy prayers’. War is declared. There is now open conflict between the Jewish authorities and Jesus. They are threatened with severe sentence. Good Friday is very close.
After condemnation comes praise. Jesus is seated opposite the Treasury and is watching people putting in their contribution. He notices the widow and her two coins. Here Jesus calls his disciples to him. We remember how many times Jesus did this when he was instructing his disciples. Back in Capernaum he went back into Peter’s house several times to clarify his teaching. Here he wants to give an instruction to the twelve. And the instruction is this: “I tell you solemnly, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury; for they put in all the money they had over, but she from the little she had has put in everything she possessed.’
This incident speaks loudly to Mark. He has given it pride of place in the Gospel story. It is a summary of all that has gone before. We go forth into the final days of Holy Week with a complete understanding of the teaching of Jesus on discipleship. It is about total giving and surrender to God.
Except for the passages about the end times, we end today our study of the gospel of Mark. This first of the Gospels in time has come from the Church in Rome about AD70 as the first written record of the life of Jesus. With Advent we will begin to study the Gospel of Matthew.