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     This Week's Focus -  "Love Works"
      Click the link for Mark 12:38-44  

 














 


 Dear Friends,

Once again Jesus shows us that it is not what we do that pleases God, but it is how and why we do it. He begins this gospel by exposing the clerical phonies who dress up and strut their piety. They have perverted their vocations into ostentatious ego trips. Their prayer had become merely a public performance to display their piety.

In building the New Covenant, Jesus is warning us once again about the insidious, corrupting grip of pride. It is the fountainhead of all evil.

Christ carries this theme into a brief exposition on charity. As he observes the rich folks donating to the temple treasury, their generosity is on full display. They have forgotten or never learned, that the Creator of the universe has no need of their largesse. God wants our love, not our spare change or the scraps from our table. Charity is not a public proclamation of our sanctity. It was never meant to be feel-good therapy for the prosperous.

With Christ, everything starts and ends with love. And charity is love in action...nothing more, nothing less. Christian charity is not about deductions or loopholes or write-offs. It is rendering to God the currency he values most...our love.

To make the point, Jesus extolls the donation of the widow who gave from the little she had. Hers is not a proud gesture. Hers is truly a sacrificial offering, a gift of love. As such her pittance is blessed. It is noble and bountiful and pleasing to God.

Jesus is obviously not afraid to look a gift horse in the mouth. He's not heaven's top fundraiser. He’s not buttering up the fat cats. In his eyes, we are all the beloved children of God. We begin each day with an equal and infinite capacity for love. We are not expected to hoard it or sit on it waiting for a rainy day. We must use it or lose it. Charity is love in action, not love in storage.

As usual, C.S. Lewis captures the heart of the lesson: "All our offerings...are like the intrinsically worthless present of a child, which a father greatly values… but values only for the intention." With God, it really is the thought that counts. And to God, our innermost thoughts have been an open book since long before time began.

As Christians, charity is not some random, one-off, generous gesture that we dish-out and then hurry back to real life. It is not an emotional response to a telethon appeal before we flip the channel. Charity is what we do. It defines us. It is why we are here.

Christian charity takes many forms. And yes, it does begin at home. But it doesn’t end there. It extends to the stranger and the least among us. The metrics of charity are often counted out in time, treasure and talent. But before any of that, there is the unmeasured essential… Love… the precious commodity we have been given by God to be put to work every day… glorifying him by serving others.

 
At God’s command, we work at love because love works. Like an ear for music, an eye for art or a head for figures… God’s love is a gift that must be practiced and put to work. Sharing God’s love is our vocation. It is not a one-night stand or a vague sentiment. It is not something we’ll try to fit into our schedule. It is God’s plan for us… the sole reason we are here.

In this gospel, the exalted denizens of the temple didn’t get it. But the widow did. She had her priorities straight. Trusting in God’s love, she had the courage to give her all.  

That is our vocation, too… an active, deliberate commitment to witness God’s love… individually as disciples of Christ… collectively as a loving Christian community. That means looking for God’s love in all things… receiving it… rejoicing in it… then joyfully passing it on.

And that’s when the work really begins. It is God’s work entrusted to us… the work of serving without regard for honor or return… the work of giving and forgiving… listening and helping… encouraging and inspiring… sacrificing and celebrating.

And doing it all in the humble spirit of the widow… in the knowledge that we are both a vessel and an instrument of love… but never the author of that love. As Paul tells us: I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who love but Christ who loves within me. Invite that love in today. Then pass it on.
Love works… if you work it.


God love you!


 

A Reflection for the 
Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B
©The Reverend Canon David F. Sellery

 
Copyright © 2018 David Sellery, All rights reserved.


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