Thursday, January 31, 2008

February 3: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

3 February: Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Readings: Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Mt. 5:1-12

This Sunday the readings offer us guidelines for better Christian way of life. There are two running themes running through all three readings: 1) consolation for those who follow these guidelines; and 2) promise of the kingdom. The readings therefore reveal our God who loves for the poor, the lowly, the oppressed and those who are nothing in the eyes of the world. In the first reading from the Book of Zephaniah gives us the reason why the Lord spares the simple, humble and righteous. We are told that favours them because they totally depend on God. Similarly Paul in the first Letter to the Corinthians argues that God chooses the foolish of the world to shame the wise; He chooses the weak of the world to shame the strong. God chooses the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing. Paul therefore affirms that God helps the simple and the powerless to triumph over the strong in the eyes of the world.
The Gospel draws our attention to the Beatitudes in which Jesus teaches about the blessedness of those who are nothing in the eyes of the world. Here Jesus outlines the spiritual values that lead to the kingdom. The Beatitudes are a way of life to be lived by the followers of Christ. The term “beatitude” means happiness, blessedness, good fortune, not in terms having, but in terms of being. The Beatitudes are a call to us all to live a spirituality of deep awareness that all we have and are belongs to God; that we are all called to be merciful; to mourn for our sins and to be peacemakers. They point out that God's love and grace does not follow human standards of wisdom and judgment. In the face of what may seem to be a bleak picture in the media, there is good news; in the face of sadness, there is happiness and in the face of despair, there is hope for those who totally depend on God. To those followers who were disheartened by negative attitudes to their way of life, Jesus spoke words of comfort and consolation. His message that touched on their actual condition was most encouraging. In the Beatitudes, Jesus teaches us that the poor in spirit, the gentle, those who mourn, those who hunger and thirst for justice, the merciful, the peacemakers are indeed happy despite their apparent suffering. Today’s readings might remind us of some women and men who discovered the message of the beatitudes and lived it, even if they had to pay a price for their radical way of life. Two examples might be St. Francis of Assisi and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The message of today’s readings may be summed up in a few points: 1) Jesus gives consolation to all who seem to have nothing; who are gentle, who morn, those who hunger and thirst for justice, those who spend themselves in peacemaking. 2) The Beatitudes are a promise that the poor in spirit, the merciful and forgiving, the mournful for our sins and the peacemakers will be rewarded with the kingdom. 3) To live the Beatitudes is to have a deep concern for others, particularly the less fortunate.

©2008 John M. Mbinda

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