As Jesus was walking out of the Temple Courts, one of his disciples said to him, “Teacher, look what fine stones and buildings these are!”
everything you’re doing
around at this present glory
for an eschatological hosanna
your weary ethical judgment
for some distant white knight
you are already at your goal
It is difficult to imagine a larger leap to irrelevancy than this shift from honoring an unnamed widow, as poor as a widow might be, to stunned awe by an organized pile of stones, no matter how large and beautifully arranged.
It is a particularly insensitive disciple who will turn their back on one pointed out as worth further attending to for either a religious idol indicted for treating its poor with a calloused disregard for the wounds it caused or a model of honorable participation in a system of sacrifice they have bought into.
By this time Readers have found some of their footing and know that the title “Teacher” is going to lead to a teaching moment, a catechetical opportunity. This means it is time for a pre-test.
Question 1: What do you expect is a next scene? Indicate what you believe will be the outcome of a widow having given her all. Is it a quick move toward death? Will she run into a prosperity preacher and find an unimaginable fortune as a result of her contribution?
Question 2: Which disciple is most likely to provide this distractive question or is this a reminder that each of them is capable of missing the point? Might it be Peter with stars in his eyes again? How about James and John still fixated on prestigious positions within this glorious edifice? Are we suspicious of a former tax collector who can assess a building’s worth? Might it be a practice run by Judas, at sowing chaos, causing Jesus to pause on his travels? Could it be the Reader?
Questions 3: Who knew a next question-trap would come via a disciple after running a gauntlet of Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees? Who’s left…the Chief Priests, State Officials, Crowd, the Possessed, one’s S*lf?