Mark 12:41

Then Jesus sat down opposite the chests for the Temple offerings, and watched how the people put money into them. Many rich people were putting in large sums;

to look and see is rare
we see what we expect
a collection box
is intended to be full
so the rich are preferred
to take up space
with a half-penny
is market heresy

generosity is rare
bottom lines keep creeping up
demanding to be filled
graduated pledge gifts
reflect give more get more
until finally
your name can be
a temple topper

Jesus sits opposite [or in an “antagonistic stance”, Myers165] where the collections for the temple were accepted in thirteen trumpet-shaped vessels around the Temple’s Court of Women. This is where people came to publicly give their financial support of the Temple. This gives rise to an image of ravenous open mouths being stuffed with money, not unlike a goose stuffed to produce pâté.

The observation Jesus does is not unlike the work of an advance scout collecting reconnaissance information. They collect and sift through details to get a more accurate picture of the situation in order to address it most efficiently.

As we read about the rich people giving, we might wonder if one of the people Jesus saw feeding the Collection Boxes was a certain man seeking a meaningful life but unable to do so if it meant selling his property and giving directly to the poor.

This may also trigger remembrance of Peter’s statement about his, and all the disciples, leaving everything to follow Jesus only to be told about the first and last not being secure locations.

It would be appropriate to hear Jesus’ mind churning with pictures of scribes in long robes dancing in his head from his last encounter with them and seeing rich robes dancing around the Collection Boxes and coming up with a connection between “long prayers” and “public generosity/philanthropy”.

This bumps up against what Mann493 sees as the arc of Jesus’ actions as “passionately concerned about the righteousness of God and impatient with anything, be it institution or people, which serves to obscure it.” Observing the world through this lens does lead to distinctions that indict the current situation. How, then, does this prepare us to evaluate what is hidden before our very eyes?

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