4th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Jan. 29, 2023

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Jan. 29, 2023

4A23.    Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13.  To be humble simply means to live with God as the God of my life, who is life for me.  Humility is to live in the genuine and absolute truth, the reality that God is the source of all goodness.  Surrendering my life to God means to forego the natural desire for me to be at the center of my life.  This is a struggle up until our last breathe.

Matthew 5:1-12a.  In beginning of his public ministry, Jesus said in Matthew 4:17b, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  He was calling upon us to repent of belonging to the kingdom of earth and coming under its kingship and instead to embrace God as the ruler or king of our lives, even while we still live on this earth.  Jesus gave his disciples a lesson or teaching in how to become a people of his kingdom.  Live, filled with God and not with this world. Grieve with those who are hurting so to be a comfort to them.   Live in the truth that is found in God and not in what this world claims to be true.  Find one’s life satisfaction in doing well in God’s eyes, no matter what others may think of us.  Love those who have hurt us.  May God be our only motivation.  Live in union with God’s Will.  Be happy when people challenge us for confronting evil.  Be happy when people persecute us as they did Jesus.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31.  In Acts 17:22-32 Paul preached elegantly to the learned and wise in the Areopagus of Athens but was rejected by them because it was not their worldly wisdom.  So Paul went to the lowly people of Corinth who, since they were not filled with the philosophies and wisdom of this world, were ready to accept God’s wisdom.  The only one who possesses the knowledge of the entirety of reality or truth is the God who made this universe.  What is not of God is an illusion and self-deception!

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2017

4A.   Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13.  This reading makes it clear that to be God’s people, we must be lowly and humble.  God is the great one and we would be nothing except what he gives us.  After the people of Israel had been taken captive and put into slavery by the Babylonians, apparently many fell away from the faith of their fathers.  When it came time for them to return to their old homeland, only a remnant came back of those that had left.  However, Zephaniah writes that their captivity made them humble and lowly, ready to treat their God as the Lord and master of their lives, ready to faithfully observe his law.  God promises bring peace and prosperity to his loyal remnant.

Matthew 5:1-12a.   Matthew likes to bring out that Jesus is establishing a new people, different than the Old Testament people.  The beatitudes are one way of expressing that difference.  The New Testament people are not so much observers of laws, emphasizing the externals, but rather, a people who grow spiritually, mature in holiness within themselves  in a way that shows itself externally.

  1. Poor in spirit – not self-centered but God centered
  2. They mourn with those who are hurting – compassionate, sorrowing with those who are in sorrow
  3. Meek – they do not think of themselves as more than they really are
  4. Hunger and thirst for righteousness – enthusiastically and energetically live for the accomplishment of God’s Will
  5. Merciful – forgive as God forgives
  6. Clean of heart – love for God is the only rationale and motivation for everything in life, it is the love from which every other love flows
  7. Peacemakers – all our endeavors and thoughts come from being members of God’s family and joining in God’s work, making peace on earth by helping the earth to think as heaven thinks
  8. Persecuted for righteousness – attacked for insisting that we must be obedient to God’s Will
  9. Persecuted for being loyal to Jesus. “Rejoice and be glad for your reward will be great in heaven.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31.   “God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly, and despised of the world, those who count for nothing.”  Those who think they alone have made themselves into someone who is important without God, who hold themselves in high esteem and others, as beneath them, are now put to shame.  Everything that is truly good is at root a gift from God and God alone.

The Athenians wrote magnificent books of philosophy.  They were highly thought of, whereas the Corinthians were lowly dock workers and the like.  However, the Corinthians accept Jesus as their Savior and so had eternal treasure in heavens.  At death it was the Athenians who counted for little or nothing.

 

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Jan. 22, 2023

3A23.     Isaiah 8:23-9:3.  Isaiah originally writes this to tell the Hebrews that the darkness that has befallen them because of their infidelity to the Lord with the invasion by the Assyrians will be dispelled by a savior that God will send.  Christianity sees this passage as a prophecy that Jesus is the savior who is the light that takes away the darkness of sin.

Matthew 4:12-23.   Once John the Baptist was imprisoned, Jesus saw that the way was opened for him to begin his public ministry, which he began in Capernaum.  “From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” As the king of a new spiritual kingdom, Jesus begins by calling 12 Apostles to replace the old kingdom of Israel that had 12 tribes from the original 12 sons of Jacob, the father of Israel.  In calling the fishermen, there seems to have been a mighty grace that flowed out into them because they immediately left their nets and followed Jesus.  Jesus “went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.”

1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17.   “Be united in the same mind and in the same purpose,” which is to belong to God and his Will.  Paul preached “the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.”  The full meaning of the cross is that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2020

3A20.   Isaiah 8:23-9:3.   “First the Lord degraded the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali.”  Long ago the Assyrians had conquered the tribes of that region and carried them off as slaves.  God in turn conquered the darkness of their subjection with a great light.  “The yoke that burdened them,” “you have smashed.”  “You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing.” This is a prophesy that was also fulfilled at a much later time in Jesus.  Our psalm 27 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation.”

Matthew 4:12-23.  Jesus spent much time preaching and working miracles in Capernaum which is close to Zebulun and Naphtali.  Now that John’s ministry had ended because had been arrested, Jesus began his ministry announcing that for those who repent the gates of heaven are about to be opened.  The Israel of the Old Covenant is to be dispensed with and the new Israel with its New Covenant is to be established in the twelve Apostles who are to replace the old Israel of the twelve sons of Jacob.  Jesus went “proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.”  Though Jesus begins his ministry among the Chosen People, his new kingdom is meant for all peoples.  He is the light that takes away the darkness.

1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17.  “It has been reported to me” “that there are rivalries among you.”  “I urge you” “that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.”  Christ sent Paul “to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.”  Paul is saying that in suffering and dying with Christ there is salvation that requires of us to surrender our own will and preferences for the common good of the Church.

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2017

3A

Isaiah 8:23-9:3.  The land and the people of Zebulun and Naphtali were looked down upon and their fortunes dim but in the end he brought glory, great light, rejoicing merriment and joy instead of darkness, gloom and distress.  Eight centuries before the time of Jesus, the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun were conquered and taken off into captivity by the Assyrians (see 2 Kings 15:29; 1 Chronicles 5:26).  Isaiah was prophesying that these lands, who were first to be degraded or fall before the eventual complete conquest of all the tribes of Israel and Judea, would be the first to see the light of God’s salvation, the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 4:12-23.  “When Jesus heard that John had been arrested,” “he left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum,” “in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali,” thus bringing a great light to a people who had sat in darkness,”  “in a land overshadowed by death.” Although John said that he was preparing the way for Jesus, apparently he did not fade away with appearance of Jesus but continued his ministry as before.  Perhaps Jesus did not want to seem to be in competition with John.  However when John was taken out of the spotlight by his arrest, that was the signal to Jesus to bring the fullness of God’s light to the forefront.

Jesus preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  Then he started choosing his 12 apostles as a way of establishing his new kingdom on earth replacing the old kingdom of the 12 tribes of Israel.  He called them and immediately they left their boats and nets and followed him, as he “proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom, and cured every disease and illness among the people.”  He was really calling upon the people to leave behind their worldly ways to live by heavenly ways while still living in the world.  The call to repentance is a call to separate ourselves immediately from the past and now to belong to and follow Jesus only.  The Old Law of the Old Testament is now obsolete.  The New Law is the Will of God/following Jesus.

 

1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17.

“I urge you” ”that there be no divisions among you.”  “

For it has been reported to me about you” “that there are rivalries among you.” “Is Christ divided?  Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”  In other words Christ is all.  It is he, and he alone, that we follow.  He is the Lord and Master of us all.  He died and rose for us.  We are baptized in him.  We “are united in the same mind and in the same purpose” because we have Jesus as Lord and king over us.

Paul writes, Christ sent me “to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.”  From the Acts of the Apostles we learn that Paul had gone to Athens, historically the world’s center of human wisdom from ancient times, and tried his best with human eloquence to convince them of Christianity.  He failed miserably but learned that it was not eloquence that was the center of our faith, but rather, the cross. Next he went to Corinth, starting his ministry by centering on the cross of Christ.  We follow Jesus to the cross and beyond.

 

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Jan. 15, 2023

2A23.   Isaiah 49:3, 5-6.   The Church transfers what Isaiah had to say about both Israel and a special prophet to Jesus.  Jesus is the servant through whom God the Father would show his glory.  Jesus is the light to the nations that God’s “salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

Psalm 40.   Jesus is the One who has come to do his Father’s Will.  He announced God’s justice to the vast assembly of Israel and the world.  He did not restrain his lips.

John 1:29-34.  John the Baptist testified about Jesus, “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and remain upon him.” John further said that the voice from heaven said that the one “On whom you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”  For the weeks to come in the liturgical year we will be witnesses to the glory of God that the Scriptures through the works and words of Jesus bring to light in our hearts and minds.

1 Corinthians 1:1-3.  Paul writes to the Church in Corinth, that is to those who have accepted God’s call or invitation to be sanctified or made holy.  They have been and are being made holy by the power of God within them and in their midst as a community of God’s People.  The glory of God is made manifest or visible in those who live in the power of God working within them.

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2020

2A20.   Isaiah 49:3, 5-6.   “The Lord said to me: You are my servant, Israel, through whom I show my glory.”  “I will make of you a light to the nations that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”  I imagine that these words first referred to both Israel and Isaiah; however, in the long term, they refer to Jesus.  He is the light like the star that leads us to God in heaven.

John 1:29-34.  John the Baptist announces the presence of the Lord who brings the Baptism with the Holy Spirit, no longer, just water.  Water is the symbolic cleansing of the soul/spirit; whereas, the cleansing that the Holy Spirit provides is not symbolic but real.  After Jesus left this earth in his human form, he sent the Holy Spirit who not only cleanses us of sin but enables us to grow in the presence of God within us.  He is the light to the nations that guides us to eternal salvation.  God the Father and the Holy Spirit’s choice is our choice.  As John stepped aside to allow for the predominance of the Christ, so too we must relinquish dominance over our own lives that he may be our leader and our Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:1-3.    “To you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy, with all those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.  Grace to you and peace.”  The call to be holy is the call that requests us to say ‘yes’ to the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit who proclaimed Jesus to be the Son of God calls us to be holy, no longer confined to be just animals and creatures of this earth but heavenly Sons and Daughters of Jesus the King.  As through Mary we shared our humanity with Jesus, Jesus shares something of his divinity with us by calling us through baptism to be members of his family.

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2017

2A17                         Is. 49:3, 5-6.  Israel was first chosen to be God’s people and they alone, as the text says, “You are my servant, Israel, through whom I show my glory.”  However, through Isaiah, God later expands the call to other peoples, telling Isaiah, “I will make you a light to the nations that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” and not just to the tribes of Jacob.

John 1:29-34.  John presents Jesus as the sacrificial offering who will redeem us from our sins, when he says, “Behold, the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”   John gives testimony that Jesus is the Son of God.   Also he contrasts his baptism as being merely of water but Jesus’ baptism as being infinitely superior because he baptizes with the Holy Spirit.

1 Cor. 1:1-3.  Paul addresses “the church of God that is in Corinth, to you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy, with all those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.”  This is Paul’s way of saying that not just Jews but all people, who recognize Jesus as their Lord, are God’s people.  We who belong to Jesus are made holy in him.  The blessing at the end says that we as God’s people can bring God’s blessing to one another.

 

Epiphany of The Lord – January 8, 2023

EpiphA23.    Isaiah 60:1-6.   The Church transferred the original reference of this text which was to Jerusalem being prophesied to be gloriously being rebuilt after its annihilation by the Babylonians to the glory given to Jerusalem much later by the Messiah Jesus being born there to bring it salvation.  “Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; all from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the Lord.”  Isaiah 62:11 says, “See the Lord proclaims to the ends of the earth: Say to daughter Zion, your savior comes!”

Matthew 2:1-12.  John 1:3c says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  Herod personifies the forces of darkness when he tells the Magi to inform him of the location of the child of whom it is said to be “the newborn king of the Jews” so that he might kill him and not as he in his subterfuge says that he will do him homage.  The Magi or royal astrologers (star readers or interpreters) represent for us the acceptance by the gentile world of the messiahship of Jesus.  The gifts that we bring to Jesus daily are acts, words and thoughts of love inspired in us by the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6.  By the grace of God it was made known “that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”  Jesus is a Jew and the Messiah of the Jews but also Savior of all humanity.  The Magi were given the grace of God to recognize the divinity of Jesus and so to be the representatives of the Gentile world in accepting Jesus as the King our lives.  In accepting Jesus as the King of our lives, (Romans  8:28a) “we know that all things work for good for those who love God.”

Epiphany of The Lord – 2022

EpiphC22.    Isaiah 60:1-6.   Upon you, Jerusalem, “the Lord shines, and over you appears his glory.  Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance.”  Originally probably written to welcome and attract the Jews to return from captivity, but also to contrast what magnificence God had to offer versus the worthlessness that the pagan world had to offer.  “All from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the Lord.”  This prophecy proclaims that those who are in the darkness shall see God’s brilliance and bring gifts to offer him in worship.

Psalm 72: “Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.” “All kings shall pay him homage, all nations shall serve him.”

Matthew 2:1-12.  Here we meet the stark contrast of the pagan magi who seek the light that gives life and Herod who has given himself over to the death of darkness.  The star is God’s angelic light.  After leaving Herod, the star reappears to lead the Magi.  On seeing “the child with Mary his mother, they prostrated themselves and did him homage.  Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” The treasure we have to offer in adoration is our life, love, our very selves.

Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6.  What was hidden in other generations is now revealed: “that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus though the gospel.” The light that shone to the magi was a light to all nations.  When we open ourselves to the light of God’s presence so to enlighten our lives, we can see the love of God for us that is the life that is eternal.  It will not die at the grave. Living in darkness is the worldly belief that what is visible to the human eye is the only reality.  To live in the light that is Christ is to recognize that what is invisible is eternally real while what is visible exists only temporarily.