(From the Bulletin of Sts. Joachim and Ann Catholic Church, January 29, 2017)
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
The readings for this Sunday are about living the ordinary Christian life in humility of heart and mind. There are no sweet angelic voices in the sky this Sunday, no thunder from the clouds or doves descending. It's about what we should be doing every day, humbly and without fanfare.
The first reading is from the prophet Zephaniah, who prophesied in the seventh century B.C. in the reign of King Josiah. Zephaniah coined the phrase, "the faithful remnant," by which he meant a few faithful Israelites who would turn away God's wrath on the day of the Lord: "Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth, who have observed his law; seek justice, seek humility; perhaps you may be sheltered on the day of the Lord's anger."
Is it stretching things too much to compare our own Pope Francis to a modern-day prophet calling today's faithful back to the values preached by Jesus Christ? What does our Holy Father tell us? He tells us that Christ is present in the weak and the poor, the powerless and the lowly.
In our second reading today, St. Paul warns the Corinthians against boasting, for "God chose the foolish of this world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong - so that no human being might boast before God."
These readings prepare us well for Jesus' teaching on the Beatitudes which we find in today's Gospel. They are teachings which turn the world's values upside down, and help us to form our attitudes toward people and situations according to God's way of thinking.
The Beatitudes challenge us to action. After listening again to that series of "Blessed," we might see them as challenges to the opportunities in our own lives .
Have you ever taken the time to visit a home for elderly men and women? Have you ever asked your pastor for the names of some shut-ins who need a phone call, or a bowl of soup, or someone to bring them Holy Communion? These, and more, are actions which live out the Beatitudes. Only God's grace can give us the courage to imitate the Lord in whatever ways our circumstances will suggest. But we need not wait very long to experience the solace, the peace, and the joy of heart flowing into our souls from defending the poor and the powerless of this world.
Fr. Louis Kemayou, Pastor