IV SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13; 1 corintians 1:26-31; matthew 5:1-12a
one of the saddest songs i have heard is «nobody’s child»: a song about a blind orphan, who feels he is nobody’s child because nobody wants him. many come to the orphanage to adopt children, but – because he is blind – they leave him behind. he feels strongly the absence of love.
there are moments in our lives when we feel like «nobody’s children»: we feel unwanted, unloved, misunderstood, and rejected; we consider ourselves failures.
today’s readings tell us that we have no cause for despair… because GOD has a preference for the nobodies of the world!
in the first reading, zephaniah speaks of and to «a people humble and lowly». these –the remnant of israel (anawim) – are a small group of people who, despite difficulties and trials, have been faithful to GOD. while others turn to worldly wealth and power, these know that their power lies in GOD alone. hence, they shall know true peace: «they shall pasture… with none to disturb them»!
the anawim are a concrete sign of GOD’s power working among the nobodies of the world.
this is the thrust of the gospel beatitudes!
«blessed are the poor in spirit…» the ‘poor in spirit’ do not have the resources to meet their needs, and recognise that they depend on GOD completely. jesus does not justify/extol economic poverty; he calls his disciples to recognise their powerlessness and complete dependence on GOD. «… for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.» he assures them that when they are ‘poor in spirit’ they will experience deep communion with GOD now.
the second to the seventh beatitudes spell out aspects of being ‘poor in spirit’.
in the eighth beatitude, those declared ‘blessed’ are those persecuted for righteousness’ sake. righteousness, for matthew, is doing GOD’s will always.
the readings assure us that – however painful the circumstances – the anawim or the poor in spirit experience the grace of GOD and intimate communion with him… here and now and always.
in my darkest hour, in moments of intense isolation, in moments when i feel like nobody’s child, can i be ‘poor in spirit’? can i acknowledge my nothingness before GOD and my utter dependence on him? if yes, mine is the kingdom of heaven!