Angelus Address by Pope Francis on the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today's Gospel episode (cf. Mk 12: 38-44) closes the series of teachings given by Jesus in the temple of Jerusalem and highlights two opposing figures: the scribe and the widow. But why are they opposed? The scribe represents important, rich, influential people; the other - the widow - represents the last, the poor, the weak. In reality, the resolute judgment of Jesus towards the scribes does not concern the whole category, but refers to those among them who flaunt their social position, they bear the title of "rabbi", ie teacher, they love being revered and occupying the first places (see verses 38-39). What is worse is that their ostentation is above all of a religious nature, because they pray - Jesus says - "for a long time to be seen" (v.40) and use God to be accredited as the defenders of his law. And this attitude of superiority and vanity leads them to contempt for those who count little or are in a disadvantageous economic position, such as the case of widows.

Jesus denounces oppression

Jesus unmasks this perverse mechanism: denounces the oppression of the weak made instrumentally on the basis of religious motivations, clearly saying that God is on the side of the last. And to impress this lesson well in the minds of the disciples, he offers them a living example: a poor widow whose social position was irrelevant because she lacked a husband who could defend her rights, and which therefore became easy prey to some unscrupulous creditor, because these creditors persecuted the weak to pay them. This woman, who goes to lay in the treasury of the temple only two coins, all that remained and makes her offer trying to go unnoticed, almost ashamed. But, precisely in this humility, she performs an act charged with great religious and spiritual significance.

Recover what is essential

The teaching that Jesus offers us today helps us to recover what is essential in our life and fosters a concrete and daily relationship with God. Brothers and sisters, the scales of the Lord are different from ours. He weighs people and their gestures differently: God does not measure quantity but quality, searches the heart, looks at the purity of intentions. This means that our "giving" to God in prayer and to others in love should always shy away from ritualism and formalism, as well as from the logic of calculation, and must be an expression of gratuitousness, as Jesus did with us: he saved us for free; he did not make us pay redemption. He saved us for free. And we must do things as an expression of gratuitousness. This is why Jesus indicates that poor and generous widow as a model of Christian life to be imitated. We do not know the name of her, but we know her heart - we will find her in Heaven and we will go to greet her, surely -; and that is what counts before God. When we are tempted by the desire to appear and to account for our gestures of altruism, when we are too interested in the gaze of others and - allow me to speak - when we do "peacocks", we think of this woman. It will do us good: it will help us to get rid of the superfluous to go to what really matters, and to remain humble.

The Virgin Mary, a poor woman who gave herself totally to God, sustains us in the purpose of giving the Lord and our brothers not something of ourselves, but ourselves, in a humble and generous offering.

 

COLLECT PRAYER

Almighty and merciful God,

graciously keep from us all adversity,

so that, unhindered in mind and body alike,

we may pursue in freedom of heart the things that are yours.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God,

for ever and ever.

GOSPEL READING: MARK 12:38-44