Scribes de­nounced, a poor widow com­mended

The Freeman - - OPINION -

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.

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“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.”

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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.

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