January 29, 2017
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 When he [Jesus] saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 He began to teach them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
6 Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.
In the gospel for last week, Jesus learned of the arrest of John the Baptist, moved to Capernaum, and began his own ministry of preaching and curing the sick. He also called his first disciples, Peter, his brother Andrew, and the two brothers James and John. In the two verses between last week’s text and the gospel for this week, Matthew states that Jesus’ fame had spread throughout Syria, and people were bringing their sick to Jesus, and great crowds from Galilee and beyond followed him.
The gospel for this week includes the beginning Jesus’s instruction to his disciples. (For the next six weeks, the gospel text will be taken from Jesus’ instruction to his new disciples.) Jesus expects the disciples to learn from him and to shape their lives by his teachings. As Matthew describes Jesus’ instruction to his followers, he is drawing on his community’s familiarity with Moses, who went up the mountain and brought back the commandments from God. Here, Jesus takes his disciples up the mountain and sits with them, assuming the position of a teacher. But he is not laying down a new set of commandments; rather, he is teaching in the tradition of a wisdom teacher.
The values that Jesus advocates in the beatitudes run contrary to those held by the society of his day. Throughout Matthew’s gospel, Jesus is described as the one who is poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungering for righteousness, merciful, pure of heart, and a peacemaker. These beatitudes look to a future time when God’s presence will be brought to fullness on earth. That future day has begun to appear in the person of Jesus. Jesus teaches his followers, by the example of his own life, how to live their lives reflecting the values of the reign of God. Thus, hope for the reign of God will continue to be present and unfold in the world through his followers.
1. Who were your mentors and teachers?
2. Who of those mentors were most influential?
3. What do you think motivated those mentors?
4. Among the blessings of the beatitudes are the kingdom of heaven, to be comforted, to inherit the land, to be satisfied, to be shown mercy, to see God, and to be called a child of God. Which resonates most deeply with your own desire?
5. Do the beatitudes speak to you of a path to what it is you desire?
6. Have you ever experienced blessings during a painful period of your life?
7. What does it mean for you to be a follower of Christ?
8. Who are the people who remind you that you are among those blessed by God? Are they same as those you consider your mentors?
9. How would you like to respond to God as you hear Jesus’ instruction to his disciples in this text?
On Wednesday of each week, the Gospel and reflection questions for the upcoming Sunday are posted at the following link: http://il-ritiro.org/gospel-reflections.aspx. You are invited to share your own reflection and comments with others at this website.
The reflection and questions are written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM. They are edited by Sister Anne Marie Lom, OSF and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. To be added to the distribution list, send your name and email address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Excerpts from the readings for January 29, 2017, the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth, who have observed his law;
seek justice, seek humility; perhaps you may be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.
But I will leave as a remnant in your midst a people humble and lowly,
who shall take refuge in the name of the Lord: the remnant of Israel.
They shall do no wrong and speak no lies;
nor shall there be found in their mouths a deceitful tongue;
they shall pasture and couch their flocks with none to disturb them.
Blessed the poor in spirit; the kingdom of heaven is theirs!
The Lord keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets captives free.
The Lord gives sight to the blind; the Lord raises up those who were bowed down.
The Lord loves the just; the Lord protects strangers.
The fatherless and the widow the Lord sustains, but the way of the wicked he thwarts.
The Lord shall reign forever; your God, O Zion, through all generations. Alleluia.
Consider your own calling. Not many of you were wise by human standards,
not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
Rather, 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
to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God.
It is due to him that you are in Christ Jesus,
who became for us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,
so that, as it is written, "Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord."
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven."
Excerpts from Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13; Psalm 146:6-10; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; and Matthew 5:1-12