4th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

January 29, 2023



Homilist: Rev. Thomas M. Kalita
Guest Choir: St. Peter Parish School Choir, Olney, Maryland
Archive Date: January 29, 2017

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Jesus teaches His followers essential Christian traits, such as kindness, forgiveness, and love.



4th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)


In a culture obsessed with strength and success, today’s readings are startling

In a culture obsessed with strength and success, today’s readings are startling. The qualities and behaviors identified in the Beatitudes look nothing like economic, political or social strength. Instead, they appear to demonstrate weakness. Paul tells us that God chose the foolish, the weak, the lowly and despised to shame the wise and the strong. Those of us who say we follow Jesus have some soul-searching to do. How do the Beatitudes fit with our professional and life-style commitments? How willing are we to engage in the really hard practices? And what would it mean if we don’t want to?

Penitential Act

  • Lord Jesus, you turn our requirements for success upside-down: Lord, have mercy.
  • Christ Jesus, you remind us to live humbly and justly: Christ, have mercy.
  • Lord Jesus, you challenge us to examine how we live: Lord, have mercy,

Forming the Remnant

The late biblical archeologist Robert North made an interesting observation many years ago in one of my doctoral classes. “The reason Christianity isn’t working,” the well-known Jesuit said, “is because we’ve got too many Christians! Just look at our Scriptures. It’s clear the Gospel Jesus never intended his followers to be more than a very small group.”

His comment dovetailed with something I once heard Karl Rahner, his fellow Jesuit, say: “When Christians reach more than 20 percent of the population they no longer have any effect in changing the culture around them. At that point people become Christians just because it’s the acceptable thing to do, not because they’re really committed to carrying on the ministry of Jesus. Often they’re an obstacle to real Christians.”

A third Jesuit, the recently deceased Daniel Berrigan, once commented he always took away points from any college student who dared employ the redundant phrase “radical Christian” in a paper or report. “If you’re a Christian,” he insisted, “you’re automatically radical.”

What prompts a particular person to chose a commitment to God, to become part of the remnant? I’m convinced, among other traits, a person’s willingness to evolve and adapt is a key element in those who form the remnant.


Planning this Sunday’s Mass

Today’s readings don’t have many obvious connections to epiphany themes. All three readings and the psalm seem to revolve around the theme of humility. The first reading is clear: “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth . . . seek justice, seek humility.” The psalm response comes from the Gospel: “Blessed are the poor in spirit; the kingdom of heaven is theirs.” Paul reminds the Corinthians that most of them do not come from the powerful or upper classes. God chooses the weak and the lowly, a reminder that our belonging to Christ is God’s doing rather than our own accomplishment. And, of course, the Beatitudes reinforce that message by holding up those who are poor in spirit, the meek and the powerless for praise.

SOURCE: Excerpts taken from the Cycle A Sunday Resources feature series of Celebration, the pastoral and worship planning resource (1972-2019). View the full series. Click on links to read all the content.

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Seek justice. Seek humility

 Zephaniah 2:3, 3:12-13

  • In the First Reading, Zephaniah announces that the humble of the earth will find shelter on the Day of the Lord.
  • The prophet Zephaniah preached at a time of great turmoil.
  • This reading asserts that the humble and lowly are the hope for the future.

God chose those whom the world considers absurd

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

  • In 1 Corinthians, Paul tries to convince the Corinthians that their significance comes from God, and that their power is the power of the cross.
  • The Corinthians, who accepted the Gospel eagerly, then began to try to outdo each other in importance, even in their Christian faith.
  • Paul challenges the Christian community to rely, not on human power, but on God alone.

The Beatitudes

Matthew 5:1-12a

  • Today’s Gospel begins the Sermon on the Mount, a collection of Jesus’ sayings describing the qualities of his followers.
  • The way righteousness is described in today’s reading is through a traditional Hebrew form called Beatitude. Beatitudes simply declare that someone is happy or blest.
  • The list in Matthew’s Gospel is surprising, however. The poor and suffering were not ordinarily described as happy.

SOURCES: Content adapted from OUR SUNDAY VISITOR  The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000. The clipart may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.

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