Sunday Gospel Reflection
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mark 12:38-44 | Nov. 7, 2021
Pride is Hypocrisy, Humility is Authenticity
Carlo S. Dureza
Jesus criticizes the teachers of the law for aggrandizing themselves at the expense of the weak and the lowly. He also praises the sincere and humble like the widow at the temple.
Jesus disdains the law experts for they “devour the widows’ goods” but make a show of piety with lengthy prayers, enjoy seats of distinction in synagogues, and places of honor in banquets. They walk languidly in long robes in the marketplace, courting attention, awaiting to be greeted by everyone. They impose heavy burdens on people but do not lift a finger to help them. They craft laws but break these themselves.
Indeed, this is how it was in Jesus’ time. Pride was deeply set in the so-called “elite” or “privileged” of society: the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, elders, and teachers of the law. These people are given to empty brandishing just to uplift themselves and their main purpose is to gain prominence, not to serve God with their hearts. Jesus loathes this hypocrisy!
On the other hand, Christ is soft-hearted towards the poor widow. She silently gives her love offering with a sincere intention of giving a part of what she has, a part of herself. Deep within her, she gives for God alone—for His glory—and not for appearances. She gave from her paltry resources which makes her more genuine in her offer because she did not withhold giving to God. Her heart pleases the Lord!
The gospel today explicitly highlights the sharp contrast between pride and humility. In pride there is hypocrisy, in humility there is authenticity. When we are proud, we are insecure and cover our truest self: a sinner. We brandish to put up a front or a facade. When we are humble, we recognize fully our frailties, our brokenness because of sin, and accept our need for the grace of God to be whole persons. We don’t behave as though we are complete, pure, and perfect.
The teachers of the law, educated as they are, were proud but insecure. They were hypocrites. The poor widow was helpless but humble in embracing her nothingness. Her emptiness enabled her to give to God as well as receive from Him.
There was once a rich woman from an illustrious clan who said that her mission in life was to help the poor. She wondered how best she could help. She was always bejeweled and resplendent in her attire. A priest then told her to remove her jewelry and give these to the poor.
There was also a lady donut vendor who donated ₱50 for the medication of a terminally ill cancer patient. In the newsletter that published the donations, other people donated thousands. The vendor’s modest donation, however, made the headline story.
Do the two figures in our gospel today, the scribes and the widow, reflect us in any way? How?
Who do we identify more with in giving help to those in need: the rich woman or the poor vendor?
Happy Sunday! God bless!