Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time after Epiphany
Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13
I Corinthians 1: 26-31
I always count it as a blessing, a privilege to stand before you and to share the Word of God, but today it is a bit overwhelming and a little scary. Watching the news this week and listening to some of you, and then reading God’s word, I could see there is going to be a clash of thoughts, but God speaks the truth to us. I did not pick these readings, I just have to preach on them, and for that, I pray I can do God well. God’s word wants us to understand that our family is not just those who you may have come with today. Our family is the poor, the meek the downtrodden, the forsaken, and those who fight for justice. If that wasn’t difficult enough, he says, “If you want to get ahead in this world by my standards it is not about power and authority!
If we cannot think of time in this past week when the teachings of Jesus Christ or the Church did not change or affect our lives, then we are missing the point of being here. The goal of Jesus Christ is always about unity in him. Now would be the time for husband and wives to hang onto to each other, if you are sitting apart because of the kids then grab onto your kid’s hand. The Word of God is meant to make us feel uncomfortable, and today the message reaches to our very core.
The Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes which we heard today are different. The Ten Commandments are still good, but they are much easier to keep. According to the Ten Commandments, if you keep holy the Sabbath and then sit in your house and just don’t do some things you are good. The Commandments are void of love or relationships. The Beatitudes are all about relationships; they are all about love and a change of attitude!
In the Gospel of Matthew, the first thing we need to know is that we are blessed. What does it mean to know we are blessed? That we are specially chosen by God, which means that he is ready to act in our lives, so we need to be ready to respond when God acts. Matthew wanted to be sure that his community was ready to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, but he was convinced that only a small number could following the teaching of Jesus. Matthew writes from knowing that he is blessed because he knows what it is like to be poor, to mourn, and to be meek.
Let’s look just at the very first beatitude because it is the most important. Jesus says, “If you live the first one, which is ‘blessed are the poor in spirit’ and the last one which is ‘blessed are those persecuted for justice’ you already dwell in heaven, the other six are pathways to heaven. Jesus begins by saying “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Blessed are those who are materially poor but also blessed are those who are broken and in need of healing. Blessed are those who put no obstruction between them and God.
My friends in Christ we are challenged today to know that we are blessed and that we are poor in spirit. In the spirit we are to build bridges not walls between us and those who mourn, are meek, those who are vulnerable. May we be that small remnant and be on fire for the truth in Jesus Christ.