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Scripture Reflections
Third Sunday of Ordinary Time - Jan. 22
Isaiah 8:23-9:3
I Corinthians 1:10-13, 17
Matthew 4:12-23

Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time - Jan. 29
Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13
Corinthians 1:26-31
Matthew 5:1-12a

Archives Msgr Paul E. Whitmore
Msgr. Paul E. Whitmore

Our readings this weekend provide us with a timely warning. They speak loudly of the importance of “unity” and “light”. How important for us who live in a world and in nation overshadowed by darkness and division! We must all be concerned about the attempts on the part of Al Quada against Christians in the Middle East. They continue to drive out natives in those lands who have worshiped in their churches for thousands of years burnings of churches, murder of parishioners have caused an exodus of thousands of those who were among the first to follow the light of Christ. We also have the war in Ukraine and horrible murders in Iran.

There is so much division in America, including government interference in religious freedom. Responsibly conducted polls show that there is growing consensus among the majority of citizens that our nation is headed in the wrong direction on issues such as abortion, marriage, family life, and moral values. It seems that the voice of the Church is rarely heeded.

Just this week, Pope Francis condemned abortion as part of the culture of waste, whether of goods or of human life.

Into our darkness comes the clear warning from this week’s readings: Christ is the light that has the power to dispel the darkness. His message of love for all peoples is the true source of unity.

The marvelous prophecy of Isaiah concerns the land of Zebulun and Naphtali in northern Galilee where Jesus lived and worked. Here will be a restoration of light with the coming of Jesus.

In this week’s Gospel, Matthew clearly refers to Isaiah’s prophecy that “a people who lived in darkness have seen a great light”.

Just as this land of the Gentiles sat in darkness until Jesus came, so too do those in our time and in our culture, await a new evangelization. The Joy of the Gospel,” Pope Francis calls for a new boldness and fiery hearts from all followers of Christ. From the papacy itself down through all ranks of clergy and laity, we must take his call very seriously, Only the message of God’s love, mercy, and salvation for all people and nations can save our world.

Each year in January, both Catholics and Protestants seek to pray together and work together for peace. Much good is done through these celebrations. But we must also strive harder for unity within our own Catholic communities. Both clergy and people committed to their care need to be united in repairing our crumbling values. It means struggling to let go of suspicions and false assumptions When we are unified, we stand a much better chance of influencing the society in which we live.

In today’s first reading, Zephania speaks of the necessity for humility. He speaks to the faithful remnant of Israel.

In Corinthians, Paul tells us that God chooses the lowly of the world to be his messengers. Only those whom the world deems foolish are chosen so that the proud will know that God doesn’t depend on them. It’s the weak that are fit to carry his world.

The Gospel for today is all about the Beatitudes. The poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful are those blessed. And they will be persecuted, just as Jesus himself was persecuted. They are the ones who will rejoice in everlasting life in heaven.

God always seems to turn the values of the world upside down. His will is often so often different from ours. In today’s dark, fearful, atheistic and hedonistic world, spinning out of control, we are comforted and challenged by all today’s readings. “He who has ears to hear, ought to hear.” We need to listen.

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