Mark 12:38-44
    (Sermon for the week of November 12th)

Mk 12:38-44
In the course of his teaching Jesus said to the crowds,
"Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes
and accept greetings in the marketplaces,
seats of honor in synagogues,
and places of honor at banquets.
They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext
recite lengthy prayers.
They will receive a very severe condemnation."
He sat down opposite the treasury
and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury.
Many rich people put in large sums.
A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.
Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them,
"Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more
than all the other contributors to the treasury.
For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had,
her whole livelihood."
Jesus says: "Beware of the scribes who LIKE to go around in 
long robes..." Why? Anyone wearing long robes are people who 
are not fit to do manual labor. It is a symbol of someone who 
does not do manual labor, and as we know, the people in Jesus' 
time made their living by doing some kind of manual labor.
So by wearing a long robe, the scribes instantly tell the public 
that they are above manual labor, that they are...well...scribes! 
Scribes also get to sit in a special place in the synagogue...
a seat that places them in the best view... but more importantly 
it is a seat where the public can see that they have the best 
seats in the Temple. Beware! Why? Why are these men given such 
praise and honor? They are men who do not work with their hands...
but work with their minds,they are knowledge workers...for man. 

They take God's commandments and expound, or clarify them, and 
make a few adjustments here and there. We know God can't be perfect 
so we need scribes to set it straight?! NO! They are humans just 
like us who will die like us and sin like us. Here is the Messiah 
standing before them again, and does the Messiah get the respect 
and attention as these scribes? NO!

We must be careful and heed Jesus' words. Just because a man holds 
themselves in a position that they say is "Holy" does not mean you 
park your own ability to think, reason, and learn at the door and 
follow whatever these "holy" men say. They are human like you and 
me and are subject to imperfection. Get to know the modern day 
scribes (clergy) as friends and ask them questions if you wish. 
Better yet, learn on your own first with Jesus leading the way and 
use the clergy for insight and assistance if needed.

Taking a back seat in your own journey of faith and showing up to 
church once in a while will not, can not, and never will build 
faith! You are in serious trouble if you have never had the 
initiative to yearn for faith. What is preventing you?

"Faith comes from learning and learning by the Word of God" as 
St. Paul informs us!
You cannot earn admission into heaven by following the instructions
of men! If you do not understand why something is said or talked 
about then why believe a "holy" man? Why not seek the Truth and 
ask God directly? Beware of false truth because a man calls 
himself a disciple of God and demands recognition.

If you can learn form them, and like them and what they do...
get to know them as you would a friend...but beware of the 
"scribes" of today that take money, that speak threats, and at 
the same time place themselves on a pedestal above all others! 
You are workers of comes through trials...
learn that mistakes and wrongdoing come FROM MANKIND and not God! 
Jesus can not, is not, and will not lead you astray! 
Men and women will lead you astray...

Let's take a test to prove 
the holiness of God and the wickedness of man:
Did the Christian Church abuse little children?
Answer: NO!
Did men abuse little children?
Answer: YES!
Who is to blame for this sickness? Jesus Christ or Men?
Answer: ALWAYS HAS, ALWAYS WILL BE MANKIND as the source of 
sickness and wrongdoing!!

Jesus says:"They (the scribes) devour the houses of widows and, 
as a pretext recite lengthy prayers." What does Jesus mean here? 
Well, scribes were known to be lawyers also. So many people had 
them invovled in legal matters, and managing their money! 
Scribes are a great occupation! You are an authority on God and 
his words and can clarify them unlike God can, you are a lawyer 
and can influence decision making, and you are a personal banker 
in the trusted position of handling money of other people.

WOW! Who would have thought these scribes are so nice and helpful? 
Well, they aren't. In fact, they took advantage of people. 
Widows are looked down upon in patriarchal societies such as 
found in the Middle East, and are easily taken advantage of. 
This is still true today. These scribes would watch over the 
widow's estates, and well, as Jesus states: would "DEVOUR THEM".

Scribes would also sit and pray unusually long prayers to ensure 
that "God hears them" and people would feel obligated to give 
them money for their hard work. See the unholy, unrighteous, 
works of man? "Forget about God...we want a donation...
so I will sit here and pray unitl I get one...!"

Don't you see this today? Scribes such as these that Jesus 
warns us about are still here...we may call them by a different 
title now or see them in a different kind of "temple".

I will finish this sermon with a couple more points. 
In the last portion of the reading, Jesus sits opposite of the 
treasury and watches people place their money "into the treasury". 
Just for some background information, the "treasury" Jesus is 
looking at usually contained receptacles for taking money that 
resembled the horn of a trumpet. In the Womans Court where this 
widow would have most likely donated her money, would have 
had 13 of these different "trumpets" to place money into.

Jesus, being the Son of God, wants to make a point.

First, people give money in order to show off. Jews would throw 
coins down the trumpets in order to generate noise. The more 
noise generated by the coins...the more money they were giving. 
So, people would show off by making the most noise in order to 
get noticed by other people instead out of pure generosity. 
These people want to show off and hear a noisy donation in order 
to get their money's worth! Then Jesus sees the widow...widow 
who placed two coins in.

First, how did Jesus know that it was only two coins and not 
one or three? Second, how does Jesus know that the woman placed 
all that she had as a donation? Think about it. You and I would 
have come to the conclusion that the widow was a tight wad and 
penny pincher before we claimed that she put in all she had to give.
I wouldn't make such a statement unless I actually knew how much 
money the woman had!
It would be easier for me and more satisfying as a sinful man to
call the widow a cheap penny pincher!
How would Jesus know this? Becuase Jesus is the Son of God and 
knows ALL THINGS! This is a verse to show you that proof. 
He knows exactly how much these people put in...and the
knowledge to learn is that Jesus knew exactly how much they 
put in before they themselves knew what they would put in! 
Nothing is hidden from Jesus. He knows ALL because he CREATED ALL. 
And that is His lesson here. He knows your thoughts, 
He knows your heart, and that is why He can be the Judge of mankind.
 Nothing is hidden...He knows what you have been through...
and the injustices you have faced...those who donate money 
to look good, and those who donate all they had...
are known to Jesus.
Jesus lived in a tent of flesh in order to fulfull the 
Law of the Torah by His undeserving crucifixion by mankind. 
Through Him you are saved. The practice of donating money 
IS NOT REQUIRED! Tithing is OLD LAW from the OLD Testament.
IF you donate, do it from your heart in order to help a cause. 
But it is no longer required. You are free to give and free not 
to give...for the Truth has set you free...and that TRUTH is the 
life, death, and Resurrection of the Only Jesus the Christ!
God Bless you and your families this week! 

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