REFLECTION FOR TODAY
November 7, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
“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.” Mk. 12:38-40
Jesus had made many efforts to share his message of salvation to the leaders of the people. The Pharisees and Scribes had resisted every opportunity to accept Jesus and his message. In our gospel reference made a strong statement of condemnation.
Jesus says, “They will receive a very severe condemnation.” These words are spoken from Him who is the source of mercy and grace. His heart is full of kindness and compassion, He is gentle and forgiving, and He wants nothing other than our eternal salvation. Yet He made it clear that the scribes will be severely condemned.
The first thing we should think is that we do not want to be like the scribes! We do not want to receive similar condemnation. If not, we should avoid their state of sin. So that begs the question, “What was the sin of the scribes that earned them this severe condemnation?”
The bottom line is that they were frauds. They were consumed with a desire for “places of honor.” They clearly treated others poorly: “They devour the houses of widows.” What is worse, they presented themselves as people of prayer when they clearly were not. As a result, Jesus severely condemned them.
The sins of the Scribes are Pride and Greed. Pride in that they thought themselves above everyone else and worthy to be save alone by God. They make a show of themselves by their interpretation and scrupulous observance of the law. Greed, in that they extort money from the poor and simple people to enrich themselves.
As Christians, we should avoid these sins. We should learn at least the two lessons from the Scribe:
1. That the true “place of honor” is the place of the greatest humility. True honor, in the eyes of God, is found when we serve without notice and give without recognition. In this way, our giving and serving are done purely out of a motivation of love and not self-serving intentions. The humble person does not seek to be praised and honored for the love they give. The act of giving and serving is itself the gift they receive.
2. That reciting lengthy prayers is not the same as praying. Prayer is about one thing. It’s about entering into communion with God. It’s about establishing a relationship with Him in a deep, beautiful, and abiding way. It is about love. Prayer is not for show or to gain the admiration of others.
Reflect, today, upon the harsh judgment Jesus issued toward the scribes. Know that this is done, in part, to teach us what to avoid in life. Avoid all selfish pride. Seek humility and true prayer and you will be greatly blessed.
Lord, help me to be a person of true prayer and worship. Help me to remain humble and true. Help me to love You out of love of You alone. Jesus, I trust in You.