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Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 25, 2023
Detail of Joey Velasco’s “Hapag ng Pag-Asa” (Table of Hope)

Today’s Invitation

Today, we invite you to explore the centrality of economic justice and flourishing in Catholic thought and ethics; engage the responsibility of economic justice with the help of Pope Francis’s encyclical, Fratelli tutti; and embody economic justice with the help of the Our Father, the Economy of Communion, and the artwork of Joey Velasco.

Commentary by Stephanie Puen PhD

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1

Jeremiah 20:10-13

Jeremiah said,
“Yes, I hear the whispering of many,
‘Terror all around!
Denounce him! Let us denounce Jeremiah!’
All those who were my friends
are watching for any misstep.
They say,
‘Perhaps he will trip up;
then we can get the better of him
and take our vengeance on him.’
But YHWH is with me, like a mighty champion;
my persecutors will trip up, they will not triumph.
They will be put to utter shame,
to lasting, unforgettable disgrace.
YHWH Omnipotent, you who test the just,
who probe mind and heart,
let me witness the vengeance You take on them,
for to You I have entrusted my cause.
Sing to YHWH, praise YHWH,
for YHWH has rescued the life of the poor
from the power of the corrupt!”

Responsorial Psalm

Psalm 69

Response: O God, in Your great kindness answer me.

For Your sake I bear insult, / and shame covers my face.
I have become an outcast to my ancestors, / a stranger to my parents and children.
R: O God, in Your great kindness answer me.

But I pray to You / for the time of Your favor, O God!
In Your great kindness answer me / with Your constant help.
Answer me, God, for bounteous is Your kindness;
In Your great mercy turn toward me.
R: O God, in Your great kindness answer me.

See, you lowly ones, and be glad, / you who seek God, may your hearts be merry!
For God hears the poor, / and those who are in bonds God spurns not.
Let the heavens and the earth praise God, / the seas and whatever moves in them.
R: O God, in Your great kindness answer me.

Reading 2

Romans 5:12-15

Therefore, sin entered the world through the first humans,
and in this way, death has spread through the whole human race,
because all have sinned.
Sin existed in the world long before the Law was given
even though it’s not called “sin” when there is no law.
Even so, death reigned over all who lived
from our first parents until Moses, even though their sin
— unlike that of our first parents —
was not a matter of breaking a law.
But the gift is not like the offense.
For if by the offense of one couple all died,
much more did the grace of God
— and the gracious gift of the One Jesus Christ —
abound for all!


Matthew 10:26-33

Jesus said to the apostles,
“Do not let people intimidate you.
Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed,
and nothing is hidden that will not be made known.
What I tell you in darkness, speak in the light.
What you hear in private, proclaim from the housetops.

“Do not fear those who deprive the body of life but can’t destroy the soul.
Rather, fear the one who can destroy both body and soul in Gehenna.

“Are not the sparrows sold for pennies?
Yet not a single sparrow falls to the ground without your Abba God’s knowledge.
As for you, every hair of your head has been counted.
So do not be afraid of anything —
you are worth more than an entire flock of sparrows.

“Whoever acknowledges me before others,
I will acknowledge before Abba God in heaven.
Whoever disowns me before others,
I will disown before Abba God in heaven.”

The Inclusive Lectionary © 2022 FutureChurch. All rights reserved. 

The inclusive language psalms:
Leach, Maureen, O.S.F. and Schreck, Nancy, O.S.F., Psalms Anew: A Non-sexist Edition
(Dubuque, IA: The Sisters of St. Francis, 1984).
Used with permission.



Radical Sufficiency

It can be difficult to do good for others when one is hungry, when one has bills to pay, or when other people are relying on a person to care for them. It can be hard to denounce evil and to “fear not” when one has plenty to fear in terms of their survival. Responding to basic needs of people is thus a key part of preaching the gospel – and so economic justice is an important part of Catholic theology. 

Economic justice, though, is not the prosperity gospel that is often seen in megachurches, as this form of the gospel often focuses on profit or material wealth without understanding the systems at work that harm rather than helping people authentically prosper in the long term. Rather, Catholic social thought rejects a neoliberal capitalist way of understanding the market that disregards human dignity, the environment, and the common good, and instead advocates for an economic system that leads to genuine integral human development.

Rather than overly prioritize profit above all, economic justice requires a radically sufficient order, given the prevalence of economic insufficiency. Economic insufficiency is seen in how resources are often stretched thin for many people; one small setback such as a hospital visit or car breakdown can quickly spiral into job loss or loss of resources. Christine Firer Hinze, drawing from the work of Monsignor John A. Ryan, argues for a livelihood agenda committed to radical sufficiency – such radical sufficiency is characterized by a high quality of life that is not driven by consumption to maintain said quality, but rather by inclusive and sustainable livelihood. In her book Radical Sufficiency: Work, Livelihood, and a US Catholic Economic Ethic, she states: “[radical sufficiency] envisages work and economic livelihood as parts of holistic, flourishing life that eschews both workaholism and the work-spend squirrel cage, and includes time and resources for rest, leisure, self-development, family and personal relationships, and community and civic participations” (264-265).

A commitment to this radical sufficiency becomes the focal commitment of priorities, policies, and strategies from the national level down to smaller organizations and individuals. Firer Hinze writes, “Everyone must be enabled to participate, and everyone must be able to gain access to enough” (265).  A radically sufficient economic agenda also means changing the ways in which we evaluate what good economics and business looks like, requiring us to utilize alternative metrics to the traditional quantitative and financial criteria used. 

Such a vision asks for radical change in the way the present economic systems are structured, through identifying and advocating for “the wisest, most prudent, and timeliest courses of action in light of Catholic social principles, the circumstances at hand, and the best possible grasp of ‘economic and industrial facts’” (269). It also asks that individuals practice the virtues of solidarity and sufficiency, rather than constant consumerism or anxiety that others’ gains will always mean one’s loss – an “economy of enough” rather than an economy driven by a wanting of more materially. Consumption serves integral human development only up to a certain degree, after which it becomes damaging instead to both people and the environment. 

Entailing both incremental changes, as well as deep shifts and reorientations of attitudes, cultures, and systems at work, a radically sufficient agenda that fosters economic justice is primarily concerned with the well-being of creation, people included. This means keeping principles and policies that align with the commitment of radical sufficiency, while also radically modifying or even rejecting those principles and policies that do not.

Commentary by Stephanie Puen PhD

Stephanie Ann Puen, PhD is a faculty member in the Department of Theology at Ateneo de Manila University. She has taught and done research on economics and business ethics, Catholic social thought, gender and sexual ethics, and theology and popular culture at both the Ateneo de Manila University, and Fordham University in New York. Follow her on twitter @profspuen.

Engage Catholic Social Teaching

Economic Justice

Economic justice is not just the work of individuals but also of businesses, and national, and international organizations. Catholic social thought highlights the need for larger coordinating bodies to help work towards the common good, without taking away responsibility and care from those who are most affected, in the spirit of subsidiarity.

In his papal encyclical Frattelli tutti, Pope Francis speaks of how on the level of organizations, there is a need for stronger institutions, in order “to promote more effective world organizations, equipped with the power to provide for the global common good, the elimination of hunger and poverty and the sure defense of fundamental human rights.” Catholic social thought shows the value and importance of the common good, and that the common good requires collaboration at the level of nations and organizations. Organizations such as the United Nations or Catholic Relief Services work across borders to help communities receive aid and work for economic development, according to particular programming areas for Catholic Relief Services, and the Sustainable Development Goals in the United Nations. These institutions are tasked to help create and support systems and structures that encourage economic justice, and ought to dismantle those that encourage inequality and poverty. 

On the level of individuals, their freedom, responsibility, and agency should not be taken away. Organizations or larger institutions such as the government should not simply impinge on smaller groups or individuals, but rather assist these smaller groups in their flourishing and fulfilling their roles in the common good. Bigger organizations at the global level thus also need to listen to and support those at the grassroots, such as smaller microfinance organizations or cooperatives in developing countries, which allow for more localized and contextualized solutions to the problems of inequality and poverty. Pope Francis continues in his encyclical in saying, “We need to have a global outlook to save ourselves from petty provincialism…At the same time, though, the local has to be eagerly embraced, for it possesses something that the global does not: it is capable of being a leaven, of bringing enrichment, of sparking mechanisms of subsidiarity.”  


A Contemplative Exercise

Think about the Our Father prayer, something we as Catholics say often, and its currents of economic and social justice:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

A Community

The Economy of Communion

The Economy of Communion is an offshoot of Chiara Lubich’s Focolare movement that has sought to make business and economics more inclusive and more integrated.  On their website, they explain that the Economy of Communion “is, first of all, rooted in two ideals of the Focolare; that we might all be one, and that none among us be in need. It therefore unites those in material and spiritual need with entrepreneurs, their companies, customers, employees, competitors, and suppliers in a global effort to create material and spiritual abundance and to freely share that abundance in ways that make us all better off. One of the crucial manifestations of this project is the more than 800 businesses around the world (more than 40 in North America) whose owners and founders commit their business activity to these ideals.

  • They willingly share profits to help those in material need, provide opportunities for meaningful work, offer products and services that meet real human and social needs, and seek to manage their companies with moral integrity.
  • At the same time, they seek to promote these ideals by their actions and involvement in their local communities, and by serving in a mentoring and support role to each other.”


Hapag ng Pag-Asa

The late Joey Velasco’s work Hapag ng Pag-Asa (translated to Table of Hope) asks us also to reflect on this work for economic justice. The painting depicts The Last Supper but instead of the apostles, Jesus is eating with poor children, who are often found on the streets in the Philippines and forgotten, falling through the cracks of the trickle-down economic system that continues to prevail in mainstream business and economics. 

Image description: Against a black background, Jesus sits in the middle of a long table wearing a lit up beige tunic and head covering, while he breaks the bread. Surrounding him are filipino children with brown skin, many wearing worn out clothing. Some eat or drink while others watch Jesus.