Fourth Sunday in ordinary time year A

Fourth Sunday in ordinary time year A

Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13

Psalm 146

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Matthew 5:1-12

Dear friends, today is the fourth Sunday in ordinary time year A. The readings which are being proposed for our meditation are talking about humility.  According to saint Augustine “Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance” therefore as Christians, we all need this virtue in our daily life. Based on the readings of today, I would like us to reflect on the theme: “Be Humble”. There are three ways to be humble in life: (1) by keeping faith in the Lord), (2) by enduring hardship because of Christ, and (3) by acknowledging our background.

Thus in the first reading taken from the book of the prophet Zephaniah, we hear how the prophet was encouraging the people of Israel to embrace humility “Seek the Lord, you humble of the land, who do his command; seek righteousness, seek humility”. This is the advice Zephaniah was given to the remnant of the house of Israel. By the time the prophet was writing this verse, Judah as a kingdom was under pressure; for the Assyrians were getting ready to invade their land. What to do? To surrender to the pagan master or to resist? At that particular moment of confusion, the prophet encouraged the people of God to seek the Lord meaning they should expect their deliverance from God. In other words, Zephaniah was requesting from the people that they should have faith and hope in the Lord, he will deliver them.

Dear friends, this exhortation of Zephaniah is also applied to us today, many times we have felt like God has abandoned us, or like the remnant of Israel, we were confused about taking the right decision, but today God is assuring us of his support. He is with us, all that we need to do is to trust in him and put our hope in him. The first step toward humility is to recognize the presence of the Lord in our lives. Through humility, we can escape the wrath of God as the prophet has stated in the first reading.

The second way of being humble is by accepting the hardship of life. In today’s gospel, Saint Matthew proposed to us nine (9) ways of being humble as Christians known as beatitudes. Jesus has seen the crowds and he decided to instruct them, for he knows that these people were thirsty for the word of God which is life.  He based his teaching on the practical aspect of life, meaning that he knows what they were going through.  Many among the crowds were poor in spirit, others were meek, others were also merciful toward their fellows, and others have pure hearts and peacemakers. While some of them were experiencing persecution, hunger, mockery, and so on. Jesus was able to satisfy these people by speaking the words of peace, the words of healing into their ears. He did not promise them that their suffering and persecution will be removed on the contrary he encouraged them to persevere for a great reward waiting for them in heaven.

Our situations might be similar to the crowds to whom Jesus has talked in today’s gospel. So what we need to do is to apply these words of encouragement to ourselves as well. Many of us are experiencing hardship, suffering, and persecution in various ways and we are about to give up. But today, Jesus is calling us to persevere until the end. We can only persevere if we are humble enough.

In the second reading Saint Paul lectured the Corinthians on how God himself has chosen them; meaning that the Christian life is a call, it is God who calls. He calls who he wanted to call at any time. Based on their calls, the apostle Paul reminded them that they have come from an ordinary background compared to the elites among them but also they were weak in the sense that they have no influence in their society but yet God has called them. What saint Paul was trying to say is that God’s vision is different from human’s view for he says that “but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise”. Dear friends this second reading is reminding us of three things: one our call comes from God, we did not call ourselves, two we should bear in mind our background, without God we are nothing, what we are today is by the help of God, therefore we should not boast, three God has called us for a purpose and this purpose is to transform the world in which we are living. Just as the Corinthians were exhorted to make a difference in their daily life, we are also called upon to do so; this can only happen if we are humble. This is the third way of being humble.

Do we want to have a humble life? If yes, today the readings are challenging us to make a move, a step toward a virtuous life. May God help us to embrace humility with joy, amen.

Fr. Issere Agre

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