I completed my PhD in the middle of the school year, and frequently afterwards I was asked, “Are you going to walk?” This is academia-speak for, “Are you planning to participate in graduation ceremonies in May?” Often, any hesitance in my response was greeted with a wholehearted, “Oh, you should! You’ve earned it!” Of course, to participate in graduation, I would need a robe—and not just any robe: an approved-gold-with-black-doctoral-stripes-and-the-university-logo robe. Academic robes are not cheap, even to rent for a day; and the higher the degree you’ve earned, the more expensive they are. For many of us, though, donning robes and hoods is a precious moment that completes the arduous academic journey we’ve taken.

The scribes in this Mark text were scholars of the law, and their robes and privileged seats were marks of honor. But Jesus points out that with honor and privilege can come detachment—a sense of no longer being interconnected with others because of achievements or knowledge. When we become distanced or disconnected from other people, we begin to make excuses for the privileges afforded to some and not others, and to justify benefits for some at the expense of the rest. For the scribes, the biting critique is that they enact their duties for appearances rather than out of devotion to God. They have lost sight of the very purpose of their study.

Graduations are one of the rare times many of us wear robes. The fancy garb, the ceremony, and the general (and musical) pomp and circumstance are all part of a grand celebration of accomplishment. It is not wrong to honor hard work and academic success. But this text from Mark suggests that our love of the trappings of honor and ceremony can become distorted into forms of hierarchy and segregation that stand against love of God and our neighbors.

Gracious One, teach us to honor you and one another in all we do. Amen.

Rece las Escrituras usando Leccionario en Audio
Leer Mark 12:38-44

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Leccionario Semanal
November 1–7, 2021
Resumen de la Escritura

Ruth’s story forms part of the background of the family of Jesus. The son of Ruth and Boaz, Obed, is David’s grandfather. The women of Bethlehem rejoice with Naomi at the birth of her grandson, and the psalmist declares that children are a blessing from God. In the scriptures, children are spoken of only as a blessing, never as a liability (unlike some narratives in our culture). The writer of Hebrews builds upon the eternal nature of Christ’s sacrifice, proclaiming that his death was sufficient once for all. In Mark, Jesus warns his disciples not to be fooled by appearances. Those who put on a big show of piety do not impress God. God wants us instead to give from the heart, even if no one but God sees.

Preguntas para la reflexión

Read Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17. Who are the people in your community who lack the basic provisions for a safe and healthy life? How do you try to help meet their needs?
Read Psalm 127. In what ways do you invite God to be part of your work?
Read Hebrews 9:24-28. When have you eagerly waited for something? How did that feel?
Read Mark 12:38-44. How do you practice generosity in the way you allocate your resources and time?

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