Reflection on Mark 12.1-12

The chief priests, the scribes and the elders feared the crowd. So they left him and went away.

The great majority of us are saddened and appalled by social injustice. We are moved, sometimes to tears, as we hear of poverty, hunger, homelessness, injustice, prejudice and exploitation … not to mention the many instances of mindless cruelty human beings inflict upon each other! In fact, we are saddened and appalled by all that objectifies those who are too weak to stand up for themselves. But, what do we do with all that sadness and outrage?

We mention these issues in our prayers of intercession, and we may make some sort of financial contribution to our preferred relief agency. But, as we pray and as we watch the monthly standing order leave our bank account, are we just ticking a box, a box that will salve our consciences?

When we pray about matters of social injustice what do we pray for? Do we pray for the strength and the courage to make a difference? Do we want to stand out from the crowd in order that we might make that difference, or are we just happy to tick the box, say that we have ‘prayed and paid’ and get on with life as usual?

In today’s reading Jesus is offering the religious leaders the opportunity to ‘make a difference’, to repent of their old ways and to follow in his footsteps. He delivers his message in the form of a parable. It is clear that those religious leaders understood the parable, but they chose to turn their back on its message of grace and hope. They chose to walk away in case they stood out from the crowd.

Every day we are challenged to hear the message of Christ. We are challenged to love and serve in his name. We are challenged to be active and productive in our discipleship. Are we prepared to meet the demands of that challenge, or will we just carry on ticking those boxes?