Gospel reflection – Sunday, January 30th

Zep 2:3; 12-13; 1Cor 1:26-31; Mt 5:1-12a

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In the first reading this week, the prophet Zephaniah exhorts us to “seek the LORD.”

How, exactly, does one seek God?

In the second reading, Paul rules out one possible answer to the question: “God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong.”  In other words, if I think I am going to find God by my own efforts or that whatever level of earthly success I achieve will translate into success into understanding the Mystery of God…..well,don’t count on it.

Paul in fact says – as do any number of saints and mystics in the Christian tradition – just the opposite:  We don’t find God. God finds us. Only when we stop running away from God, however, and for most of us that seems to require a certain amount of pain.

Please don’t misunderstand.  God does not want us to suffer. Suffering in and of itself is not holy.  Yet there does seem to be a tendency among us human folk to burrow deeply into the illusion that each one of us is self-sufficient. Sooner or later, this delusion hardens into a pretty tough shell and we would likely pass from cradle to grave trapped inside of it except for the grace of God, that throws us against hard surfaces from time to time which crack the shell.

And then, as we sit there having fallen on our collective asses, rubbing our collective heads,  we notice- there’s a hole in the shell through which I can see into the Mystery of God.

Should one be looking for a less painful way to break through the shell – or at least make it more fragile – our spiritual guides this week offer some suggestions.

“Seek justice and humilty,” Zephaniah says.

Paul reminds us that is “in Christ Jesus” that we “live and move and have our being”.  An indirect reference to humility here, because the more one recognize the centrality of Christ, the more one’s Ego has to find  a seat somewhere other than the center of the universe.

Jesus of Nazareth offers us the beatitudes –  attitudes of the heart that will inevitably reorient our lives towards the kind of humilty and commitment to justice  Zephaniah and Paul are talking about.

Take for example this one: “Blessed are the clean of heart” – that is, those whose hearts are completely and totally open to God.

The result? “They will see God.”

Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrm)

(To read book-length versions of my writings on the scriptures, go to www.twentythirdpublications.com)

How does one seek God?

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