WHAT does faith look like? How does faith connect to power and wealth? What part do I play as we seek to trust in God? These are some of the questions that are evoked by the Lectionary readings for this week. They challenge our alliances, our use of our resources, our care for the most vulnerable in our world, and the extent to which we are willing to “gamble” all on God’s Reign.
Our Gospel from Mark 12:38-44 examines the dynamics between those who are powerful from a human perspective and those who are poor and weak, but who trust in God. In Mark’s Gospel the religious leaders, who should be sacrificing for the sake of others, are rather using their position for self-elevation and corruption.
The message is clear – human power is limited, often corrupt and ultimately fails those who trust in it. God’s care, protection and justice is sure and eternal, and through the self-offering of Jesus Christ, all people can find security within the grace of God. The challenge is to ensure I place my trust in the right place, while also endeavoring to be faithful and righteous in whatever power or leadership I may exercise.
What this means is that, as Church, I need to be very careful of aligning ourselves with any political party, government structure or position of power and wealth. To do so is to betray my trust in God, and to fail in our mission to proclaim and embody God’s Reign. Rather, as I work for justice, I am called to place my trust in God and God’s ways, and remain independent of such authorities, in order to be able to work with them, while still speaking in challenge or confrontation of them when necessary. It also means that, whatever authority or wealth I may have must be used for the sake of bringing justice to the least, and not for any kind of self-elevation.
I must be careful how I measure the “success” of our churches – not by wealth and power, but by commitment to God’s Reign – and I must ensure that I embody in my neighborhood, the compassion and generosity of Christ.
The question I ask has to do with where I place our faith, and how this impacts how I live. The Scriptures contrast our trust in human leadership and resources with trusting in God. Whatever I may do to ensure that I have life’s necessities, I always need to remember that it is ultimately God in whom I must trust –as the poor widow did.
The Rev. Isaias Ginson is priest of The Episcopal Church. He is currently priest in charge of the Episcopal church of St. Margaret’s in Plainview, NY.
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