The Perspective of Justice

Teaching Us Charity

Today’s liturgy reveals some important facts about the poor.

1) The poor are blessed because they have a greater recognition of their need for God. The two widows in the readings give up everything, totally trusting in the goodness of the Lord.

2) The poor are therefore more generous than others. Jesus made it very clear that “this poor widow contributed more than all the others who donated to the treasury.” Recent studies in the United States reveal the same phenomenon: relative to their resources, lower income people are the most generous.

3) The poor may or may not have society on their side, but there is no doubt where God stands: The Lord “secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry, sets captives free, gives sight to the blind, raises up those that were bowed down, protects strangers, and sustains the fatherless and the widow.”

Those among us who are not poor receive the challenge to be poor in spirit. We pray at the start of this liturgy for freedom of spirit “ ... so that we may more willingly give our lives in service to all.”

In teaching us charity, the Gospel instructs us in the preferential respect due to the poor and the special situation they have in society: the more fortunate should renounce some of their rights so as to place their goods more generously at the service of others.

Pope Paul VI, Octogesima Adveniens, 1971: 23

Gerald Darring

**From Saint Louis University

Kristin Clauson