4th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Fr. Vinner)
SEEK THE LORD
The first reading is from the Prophet Zephaniah and tells us how to seek the Lord: do no wrong and tell no lies! What an ideal world that would be if all of us could live that way! On the other hand, even if we fail to live that we, we can keep striving to live that way. The challenge is that our present world no longer knows what good is and what wrong is. The world does not know truth from lies. We are beset on every side with values that are so different from the values given to us in the Scriptures that people become confused. Far too often, whatever the present cultures wants to call good is accepted as good and whatever it wants to call bad is accepted as bad. Yet we who follow the Lord Jesus, have the Word of God to form us and to guide us into all truth.
The second reading comes from the First Letter to the Corinthians. This letter reminds us that if we actually do choose to follow the Word of God and to follow Jesus as our Savior, we will be considered fools. This shows up over and over today. But we are told in this reading: “God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise.” It is our foolishness in following Jesus that can actually bring light to the world and perhaps even draw the world back to God. The early Christians knew that to live in Christ was to fight against the values of the world. The early Christians even know that they might have to die to proclaim the truth given to us in Christ Jesus.
The Gospel recalls how the hidden God once spoke to Moses from the cloud over Mount Sinai. God then gave Moses the commandments, a way of life and freedom for Israel. What we have here isn’t a replacement for that way of life. Jesus tells us, rather, what that life costs in an evil world, and so how God blesses us for our fidelity to that way of life. In this sense, it looks forward to the cross and to the resurrection of Christ. The beatitudes assure us that as we share in His Passion, so shall we also share in His resurrection to eternal life.
Jesus teaches in the beatitudes is in fact the way of life that He Himself already lives by the power of the Holy Spirit. We shall understand how that power enables a certain kind of poverty when we reflect on the Divine Pity that took on flesh and suffered for love of sinners. This is the humility that thinks no discomfort, no hard truth, too high a price for the dignity of others. Humility gets its hands dirty, gets down on hands and knees if need be, so that others can stand tall. This is the humility of the prophet, the healer, the man or woman of persistent prayer. The Beatitudes propose to us a way of life, inviting us to identify with the poor, those who mourn, the meek, and those who hunger and thirst after justice. They challenge us to be compassionate people, to be men and women who are pure in heart, and to become the peacemakers in our dealings with one another, in our families and in the society at large, even when this approach to things exposes us to ridicule and persecution. Let us remember that each time we reach out to help the needy, the sick and the oppressed, we share with them a foretaste of the promises of the Beatitudes here and now.
We Christians today like to be comfortable and to be well off. There is nothing wrong with that by itself, but when we are willing to water down the Word of God in order to maintain a comfortable life style, then we must recognize that we are betraying Jesus as our Lord. None of us wants to be a “fanatic,” someone so obsessive about his or her religion that all we do is irritate others. On the other hand, we must be able to stand up for the truth of the teachings of Scripture and of our Catholic Church. When we find ourselves compromising because we don’t want to bother others, then we are betraying our Lord once again. The implication today is that we must give our whole being to God. We must follow Jesus with all of our strength. When we fail, we must get up and start again. Compromising with anything less than Jesus simply means following the world and its values and not following our Lord.
My sisters and brothers, this Sunday invites us to renew our commitment to the Lord Jesus. Let us walk in His ways and accept all the suffering that will bring to us. We want to be in His kingdom now and forever.
God bless you.
Fr. S.Vinner HGN