Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
The world offers us many things for its own sake. Among them are the following:
1. Information. One must outdo and outwit everybody else with what he knows, yet what he knows is only a bit of information of a field of knowledge of a greater field of knowledge. A worldly person can only offer promises and information, but not life, joy and understanding. When his promises remain in the air, he falls, just as the devil promised Jesus the world’s wealth, but could not sustain his promise.
2. Power. One must bring to himself people who would follow him, and eliminate those who go against him. With this power, he gets what he wants, and prevents others from acquiring what they need. When he cannot sustain his power, he joins those who build their houses on sand, and when the rains of difficulties come, they fall and crumble shamefully and disgracefully.
3. Pride. One shows off to others what he has and what he can do because of his influence and power, and most of the time at the expense of the weak and for a price that is unattainable. When he can no longer sustain his pride, he plunges into the depths of disgrace, and causes more misery to his family and community.
In the Book of Zephaniah, the prophet proclaims: “Seek the LORD, all you humble of the earth, who have observed his law; seek justice, seek humility (2:3)…. They shall do no wrong and speak no lies; nor shall there be found in their mouths a deceitful tongue” (3:13).
Contrary to what the world offers, St. Paul has this to say: Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God” (1 Cor 1:26-29).
These statements emphasize not our power or capacity to do things, but God’s power and wisdom to do things in and through us. Isaiah proclaims very vividly, “O Lord, you mete out peace to us, for it is you who have accomplished all we have done (26:12). St. Paul also proclaims: “Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord” (1Cor 1:31).
From these, we learn the following:
1. Jesus is our Wisdom and Life. He was just too much for Pilate, for the Scribes and the Pharisees, and for many Jews, “for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes” (Mt 7:29). To those who put their trust in Jesus, He promises joy and eternal life, which He has sustained in the past, still sustains now, and will sustain forever.
2. Jesus is our power and deliverance. He has the power to forgive sins and to lead us away from evil when we cooperate, and has the power to raise us to life. Those who turn to Him He saves from slavery to sin, for He is full of gentleness and compassion.
3. Jesus is our righteousness and joy. He leads us to right relationship with the Father, with our families and with his people through the action of the Holy Spirit. Apart from him we fall into all kinds of vices that separate us from God and our families, as well as fall into sadness and alienation, for the world is full of empty words and selfish activities. Only in Jesus can our joy be complete.
Now Jesus proclaims to us the Beatitudes: Blessed are the poor…. Blessed are they who mourn…. Blessed are the meek…. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness…. Blessed are the merciful…. Blessed are the clean of heart…. Blessed are the peacemakers…. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness….. These are the people who are happy, who put their trust in the Lord and are ever connected with His people.
The Eucharist that we celebrate brings us back to the reality of our life: we are citizens of the Kingdom of God, and only a life lived in the spirit of the beatitudes is a life worthy of the Kingdom. For our sake Jesus suffered and died, and rose from the dead to bring meaning to our life, to suffering and death, as well as to give meaning to reward and glory for those who remain faithful to Him. He is the Beatitude made flesh who lived among us. He is our Beatitude on our journey to heaven.