As this year draws to a close, we read from the final chapter of St Mark’s Gospel. In fact, next week-end we will read St Mark’s story for the last time in 2018. We will not read it at our Sunday Masses for another three years.
St Mark’s Gospel is the shortest of the Gospel stories. Nevertheless, it is commonly recognised as the earliest, and probably the most accurate, account of the life of Jesus. It is believed that St Mark’s story is based on the eyewitness account provided to him by St Peter. These eyewitness accounts of the life of Jesus are called the “Kerygma” (ie the “apostolic stories” about Jesus).
Hence, it is interesting to note that St Mark, towards the end of his story makes a contrast between the hypocrisy of so called religious leaders and the genuine kindness and integrity of an impoverished widow.
The religious leaders had access to power, wealth and learning. In particular they knew the revelations in the sacred books about the goodness, mercy and righteousness of God. The widow would have been powerless, extremely poor and would have been deprived of many intellectual and religious insights about God. Nevertheless, she, unlike the religious leaders, acted in a way that epitomised the goodness, mercy and righteousness of God. The religious leaders did not!
The lesson for us is simple. Give without counting the cost, be always merciful and forgiving and be a person of integrity. If we can do that, we are very, very close to God.

Rev Fr Tom Stevens