THIRTY SECOND SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
The Sunday Scriptures
The Lord contrasts the hypocrisy of the religious leaders with the generosity of the poor widow. She, not the former, is the sign to the disciples of the generosity demanded of them (Mark 12:38-44). For the most part, widows are a sign of helplessness in the Scriptures – those who need to rely on the generosity of others. The great series of stories about the ninth century B.C. prophet Elijah (I Kings 17:1-II Kings 2:13) begins with his encounter with the widow. In the midst of the drought by which the sinful King Ahab and the people are punished, Elijah demonstrates God’s care for the widow in need. It is significant that she is not living in Israel (I Kings 17:10-16). The Letter to the Hebrews refers to the annual Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16), continuing the contrast between the Aaronic priesthood and the sacrifice of Christ the High Priest. His once and for all sacrifice is clearly superior to all others (Hebrews 9:24-28).
Gaudium et Spes Part II: Chapter 5 The Fostering of Peace and the Establishment of a Community of Nations, Section 2 (83-88) 
The second half of Chapter 5, Part II is entitled ‘Establishment of an International Community’ and examines remedies for the causes of discord, above all international organizations and international cooperation in economic matters. It then looks at the role of the Church and individual Christians in promoting development and urges co-operation with other Christians and without mentioning any specific religion, with ‘those who acknowledge God’. (92) It clearly praises all those already involved in activities to promote harmony, emphasising the necessity of justice and the solidarity of mankind. It forcefully urges Christians to be wholeheartedly generous in helping to redress balances in the world. ‘Christians should willingly and wholeheartedly support the establishment of an international order…Let us not be guilty of the scandal of having some nations, most of whose citizens bear the name of Christians, enjoying an abundance of riches, while others lack the necessities of life and are tortured by hunger, disease and all kinds of misery. For the spirit of poverty and charity is the glory and witness of the Church of Christ.’ (88)
The revelation of God in the Scriptures consistently points to his preferential option for the poor, as in the accounts about widows (along with strangers and orphans). Gaudium et Spes is clear that Christians need to work with others at a local, national and international level to redress the economic inbalances in the world and thus secure peace and justice as an antidote to war.
Points for reflection
- How do we live out our preferential option for the poor as a Church community?
- In what ways can we deepen our commitment to the developing world?
- How can we work more effectively with other religions and people of good will?
Canon Mervyn Turner