Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time: January 29, 2023
Seek Justice, Seek Humility (Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12–13)
People who have had a close encounter with death often feel like God has saved them for some reason. They cannot explain it. They do not know what that reason might be. Whether they were preserved from an accident, aggressive violence, or a near-fatal illness, they believe that God has some future purpose for them. The experience often makes them appreciate every day. It makes them humble.
The prophet Zephaniah spoke to people who had had that kind of experience. He spoke not just to individuals who felt they had been spared. He spoke to a people who felt that way. They had survived a war. They had endured persecution. They had lived through exile. These people had a name for themselves. They called themselves “the remnant.” The experience deepened their faith. It kept them humble.
When Jesus blessed “the poor in spirit” (Mt 5:3) he addressed the descendants of the people who had escaped this danger. They formed a remnant who had remained faithful after years of persecution and waiting. They were humble.
What calamity has your community survived? How has God protected you? Has it made a difference in your life? Has it kept you humble?
God’s Choices (1 Corinthians 1:26–31)
Jesus did not choose the best. He chose disciples who were dense, who fought with each other, who jockeyed for leadership, who asked stupid questions, and who ran away while he hung dying. They were not the best. They had no experience in public speaking, anger management, catechesis, team building, or chairing committees.
And yet the church survived. One of the proofs that Christianity is divinely inspired is that our founders did not know what they were doing, and still the faith spread far and wide.
St. Paul told the Corinthians that God chose “the foolish of the world to shame the wise,” “the weak . . . to shame the strong,” “those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something.” He was not talking about the apostles. He was talking about the Corinthians. God chose them, even though they were not the best. God did this so that people would not trust in their own strengths, but would trust in God. God can use people no matter how limited their gifts are.
All around us are people God has chosen for ministry. They may not be the best at what they do, but they do it because God wants it done.
God does not always choose the best. But God chooses people anyway. God wants you for something too. Have you ever said no because you thought you could not do it? Might it be that God will do it, once you say yes?
Lectionary Bulletin Inserts: Reflections on the First and Second Readings, Year A © 2019 Archdiocese of Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications. All rights reserved. Written by Paul Turner. Lectionary for Mass © 2001, CCD.