11/11/2012 Give Your All

Ordinary Time (Proper 27)
Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17, Psalm 127, Hebrews 9:24-28, Mark 12:38-44

To get things started, allow me to toss out some numbers:

6 billion
400 million
44 million
37 billion

I’ll get back to those numbers, but first, here’s this week’s Gospel lection from Mark:

As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” –Mark 12:38-44 NRSV

For those who read last week’s ForeWords blog, you may recall how pleased I was to finally find some kind words regarding religious scribes in the Gospels, as that’s a pretty good description of my career path. Well, so much for that! We’re back to a less-than-pleasant (albeit more typical) caricature. For the sake of argument, let’s give them a bit of an update and refer to them as the first-century equivalent to what we today call the “1 percent.” In other words, these are the privileged class who are often clueless about the true condition of the other 99 percent (and, I suppose, Mark uses a widow as representative of that much-larger group).

Now, about those numbers.

During the now-completed election here in the USA, approximately $6 billion was spent on various kinds of advertising and promotion, much of it negative, nasty, or both. About $400 million of that was contributed by a small group of billionaires/millionaires to defeat President Barack Obama and elect enough Republicans to give them control of the U.S. Senate. Hmm, that didn’t work out so well, did it.

About those other two numbers: 44 million is the number of Americans who currently do not have medical insurance. In 2010 approximately $37 billion was the amount allocated in the U.S. federal budget for foreign economic aid (that’s a bit less than 1 percent of the total).

I could go into an extended rant about those four numbers, but the election is past and I’d just as soon move on with life–more than likely, you would, too. And so I’ll let them speak for themselves, except for this one question: What would Jesus have to say about it all?

About Rich Brown

Rich Brown is a writer, blogger, editor, and publisher. His most recent book is "Speak to the Bones: How to Be a Prophetic People in a Time of Exile" (Isaac's Press).
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