Tuesday, November 3, 2015

What Do You See?


When you see the scribes walking through the marketplaces with their long, fancy robes, what do you see? When they bow to each other extravagantly and salute each other with unnecessary reverence, what do you see? When you see them occupying the best seats in the front of the synagogue and at the high table at the wedding feast, what do you see? When you see them nodding their heads as they pray a carefully crafted, perfectly patient prayer, what do you see?

When you catch sight of a widow slipping in and out of the crowd, making her way to the treasury, what do you see? When you see her lower her head in shame because she accidently brushed against someone important in the crowded square, what do you see? As she holds out her hand and silently moves her lips, begging God to help her find enough food to eat now that she's dropping her last two coins into the box, what do you see? When the sound of those thin coins clinks inside the offering box, hardly making enough noise to bother over, and the woman looks around to make sure no one noticed how little she had to give, what do you see?

Jesus sees what we cannot. We see a rich holy man whom God has blessed abundantly. He sees a hypocrite. We see a poor sinner whose sadness and meekness must somehow be deserved. He sees a pillar of faith. Sunday, we are asked to see what he sees. Can we see it?

Like it or not, we still associate rich with reward. Like it or not, we still associate poor with punishment. Who sits in the corner office? Who tops the list of Fortune 500 CEOs? Who sits on the street corner? Who stands in the welfare line? Success is earned. Wealth is acquired. Prominence is deserved. Struggle is earned. Poverty is acquired. Disgrace is deserved. At least that's what we see.

Sunday, we will hear the story of the scribes who "devour widows' houses" and the poor widow who places all she has in the treasury. If we close our eyes, we will see the scene unfold before us. But, in the gospel, the identity of the characters is reversed. Jesus embraces the latter and warns us of the former. Jesus celebrates the poverty and chastises the wealth. Jesus praises the widow and excoriates the scribe. Why? Because he sees what we cannot see. He sees as God sees. He sees as we are supposed to see. Can we see it?

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