Prayer and Humility
Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop – Memorial
“Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation.” Mark 12:38-40
It’s important to note here that Jesus says, “They will receive a very severe condemnation.” These words are spoken from Him who is the source of mercy and grace. His heart is full of kindness and compassion, He is gentle and forgiving, and He wants nothing other than our eternal salvation. And yet Jesus is clear that the scribes will be severely condemned. Ouch!
The first thing we should think is that we do not want to be like the scribes! We do not want to receive similar condemnation and, thus, we should avoid their state of sin. So that begs the question, “What sin of the scribes earned them this severe condemnation?”
The bottom line is that they were frauds. They were consumed with a desire for “places of honor.” They clearly treated others poorly: “They devour the houses of widows.” What’s worse, they presented themselves as people of prayer when they clearly were not. As a result, Jesus severely condemned them.
So what do we learn from their errors? We should learn at least the following two lessons:
1) The true “place of honor” is the place of the greatest humility. True honor, in the eyes of God, is found when we serve without notice and give without recognition. In this way our giving and serving are done purely out of a motivation of love and not self-serving intentions. The humble person does not seek to be praised and honored for the love they give. The act of giving and serving is itself the gift they receive.
2) Reciting lengthy prayers is not the same as praying. Prayer is about one thing. It’s about entering into communion with God. It’s about establishing a relationship with Him in a deep, beautiful and abiding way. It’s about love. Prayer is not for show or to gain the admiration of others.
Reflect, today, upon the harsh judgment Jesus issued toward the scribes. Know that this is done, in part, to teach us what to avoid in life. Avoid all selfish pride. Seek humility and true prayer and you will be greatly blessed.
Lord, help me to be a person of true prayer and worship. Help me to remain humble and true. Help me to love You out of love of You alone. Jesus, I trust in You.