Scribes denounced, a poor widow commended
It is now the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time and today’s gospel reading comes from Mark 12:38-44 where our Lord Jesus Christ teaches a warning against the teachers of the law or scribes, and in the same gospel our Lord commends a poor widow for her charity in giving all that she had.
“38 As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces,39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour widows’houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
In the first story, allow me to repeat that gospel for more emphasis: “As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, 39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour widows’houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” So who are these teachers of the law?
In Judaism, there are three groups, the Sadducees, the Scribes, and the Pharisees. They became the church leaders of their time. I checked with Wikipedia on the three groups and this is what they wrote.
“The Sadducees (were a sect or group of Jews that was active in Judea during the Second Temple period, starting from the second century BCE through the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. The sect was identified by Josephus with the upper social and economic echelon of Judean society. As a whole, the sect fulfilled various political, social, and religious roles, including maintaining the Temple. The Sadducees are often compared to other contemporaneous sects, including the Pharisees and the Essenes. Their sect is believed to have become extinct sometime after the destruction of Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE, but it has been speculated that the later Karait may have had some roots in—or connections with—Sadducaic views.
“Meanwhile a Scribe is a person who serves as a professional copyist, especially one who made copies of manuscripts before the invention of automatic printing. The profession, previously widespread across cultures, lost most of its prominence and status with the advent of the printing press. The work of scribes can involve copying manuscripts and other texts as well as secretarial and administrative duties such as the taking of dictation and keeping of business, judicial, and historical records for kings, nobles, temples, and cities
“The Pharisees were at various times a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought in the Holy Land during the time of Second Temple Judaism. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, Pharisaic beliefs became the foundational, liturgical and ritualistic basis for Rabbinic Judaism.
Conflicts between Pharisees and Sadducees took place in the context of much broader and longstanding social and religious conflicts among Jews, made worse by the Roman conquest. Another conflict was cultural, between those who favored Hellenization (the Sadducees) and those who resisted it (the Pharisees).” So now you know who they are and why the Lord chastised them.
As far as the poor widow is concerned our Lord commended her for being charitable despite her poverty. Most people show their charity so that other people would see them. But not the poor widow for she gave even if she needed that money for food. I guess this also happens today.