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That's The Spirit!

Be on guard against the Scribes, who like to parade around in their robes and accept marks of respect in public
Mark 12:38-44 or 12:41-44

Sermon Topic Hypocrisy

Sermon Week Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle B

Scripture Summary Mark 12:38


A mother receives a birthday card made with all the love and devotion her little six-year-old son could put into it. It is smudged with crayon marks and glue. On the front there is a drawing of mom that makes her look forty pounds heavier than she is. If she judges only from outward appearances, she might be tempted to consign the unflattering image of herself in the waste basket. If she responds in the spirit in which it was made, she can truly say that this is the most beautiful birthday greeting that she ever received.

What a difference it makes in the life of a six-year-old whose mother emphasizes the spirit behind his labor of love rather than the mere outward appearance of the end product. Of course, a mother has an advantage. She knows her child's capacities and limitations. A good mother learns not to expect too much. (On the other hand, mom probably would react differently if the birthday card with the unflattering figure had been presented to her by her husband.)

It has been said: "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." In today's Gospel story, the disciples watch, listen and learn as Jesus brings the spirit of these words to life. Jesus has been debating in the Temple with a group of religious officials noted for their scholarship, especially in matters of religious law. By flaunting their expert knowledge before the people, they tended to reduce all religious experience to the level of mere obedience to rules and regulations. This was the basis of their many confrontations with Jesus, who insisted on the primacy of the "spirit" over the "letter" of the law. In the view of the Scribes and Pharisees, religion was largely an outward display of ritual and ceremony performed in strict conformity to prescribed rules. For Jesus, religion was first and foremost a spiritual affair. For Jesus, the most important thing was what was in a person's heart. For Jesus, the external exercises in themselves were meaningless if they [...]

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