TWENTY NINTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
The Sunday Scriptures
Despite Jesus’ persistent teaching, the disciples still misunderstand that discipleship involves suffering and humble service. There is no short cut as James and John envisage (Mk 10:35-45). The end of the longest and last of the four Suffering Servant poems (52:13-53:12), after graphic descriptions of the suffering, ends with God’s rewards not only for the servant but also for others (Is 53:10-11). His suffering is redemptive. The second major theme of the Letter to the Hebrews dominates the rest of the text: Jesus is the supreme High Priest who yet shares our weaknesses. It is him that encourages us to hold fast to the faith (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Gaudium et Spes Part II: Chapter 4 The Political Community (73-76) 
Chapter 4, Part II, examines the Political Community and has paragraphs on the nature and purpose of the political community, participation by all in public life and the political community and the Church. It clearly upholds the rights of individuals in any political system and praises those who develop ‘the right of free assembly and association, the right to express one’s opinions and profess one’s religion privately and publicly.’ (73) But it also supports legitimate authority to draw together differing points of view, ‘to guide the energies of all towards the common good’. (74) The Church’s role and competence ‘is not identified with any political community and not bound to any political system. It is at once the sign and the safeguard of the transcendental dimension of the human person. The political community and the Church and are autonomous and independent of each other in their own fields. Nevertheless, both are devoted to the personal human vocation though under different titles.’ (76) In other words the Church is not to dominate but co-operate in service.
Humble service of others, with a profound understanding of the redemptive role of suffering, is a mark of the Christian. Gaudium et Spes recognizes the legitimate role of the State and politics and also the role of the Church to co-operate with, serve, promote and safeguard the common good. Both politics and the Church exist to serve the individual and the community.
Points for reflection
- How do we help each other deepen our understanding of suffering?
- What are the most effective ways of working with politicians to further the common good?
- How do we deepen our commitment to Jesus the High Priest?
Canon Mervyn Tower