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Deacon’s Blog – February 2024

By February 27, 2024No Comments

Reflection on Mark’s Gospel: Mark 12:38-44 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

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.”

In this passage from the Gospel of Mark, Jesus warns us about the dangers of pride and hypocrisy. He speaks of the scribes who parade around in their long robes, seeking recognition and honor, while exploiting the vulnerable and offering prayers only for show. They represent a system that values appearances over genuine compassion, a system that Jesus challenges us to question.

Jesus directs our attention to a poor widow who, with humble generosity, gives all she has to live on. Her act carries profound meaning. She teaches us about the true essence of giving, about sacrificial love, and about the importance of sincerity and authenticity in our actions.

Reflecting on Mark’s Gospel, we are reminded of our roles in the world. Change, as we know, is inevitable. It brings about friction, tension, and discomfort. Yet, it is through this friction that growth and transformation occur. We are called to be agents of change, not merely accepting the status quo, but actively working with God’s help, towards a better world.

However, change cannot happen in isolation. It requires us to engage with the existing systems, to challenge the prevailing norms, and to inspire others to envision a different future. As Jesus organizers, we must meet people where they are, recognizing their frustrations and disillusionments, and walking with them towards a shared vision of hope and possibility.

Our ministry should be one of humility and service. Unlike leaders who seek power for their own sake, we are called to empower others, to uplift the marginalized, and to create opportunities for collective mission and ministry. Our joy lies in the acts of re-creation, restoration, reconciliation in the constant movement of the arc of justice and love.

Let us, accept, and embrace our roles as disciples of change, inspired by the example of the poor widow who gave everything she had. May we cultivate a spirit of deep relationship,

generosity, authenticity, and compassion in all that we do. And may our efforts contribute to the realization of The Creators reign of heaven here on earth.

At Saint John’s there are countless opportunities to engage as Jesus Disciples of Change: welcoming immigrant strangers and supporting their families as they engage in our communities, feeding the hungry at First Nations Kitchen or Casa Maria, Protecting Creation at Good Courage Farm and in our personal lives and how we impact the environment, challenging dysfunctional governmental systems that promote racism and separation.

As Episcopalians, we have a rich tradition of prophetic witness and advocacy for social justice. We are called to challenge systems of oppression and to work towards a world where all people are treated with dignity, respect, and equality. We are called to be builders of bridges, and not walls of separation. Bishop Curry’s ‘The Way of Love’ provides a practical framework for living out these teachings in our daily lives. In confronting the rise of white nationalism and supremacist ideologies, we are reminded of our call to speak out against injustice and to stand in solidarity with those who are targeted and marginalized.

Bishop Steve Charleston writes in We Survived the End of the World:

Do you feel you are living on the threshold of an apocalypse? Do you get the sense that things are collapsing around you? Do you ever wish you had an escape plan to get away from reality before it comes crashing down? If you do, then please do not think I am being flippant when I say welcome to the human family.

Native American nations have endured war, genocide, pandemics, concentration camps, re-education centers, death marches, religious persecution, environmental disaster, language loss, imprisonment, political oppression, sanctioned murder, kidnapping, slavery, sexual abuse, and endemic racism. And yet, sovereign Native nations are still here. They have not only survived; they have grown stronger.

As members of the Human Family, let us embrace the radical message of Jesus and grow stronger building bridges of welcome, repairing the breach in loving hospitality, compassion, and solidarity.

Loving one another as Jesus loves us,

Rex