This Sunday is the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings are from Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13; Psalm 146:6-7, 8-10; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Matthew 5:1-12.
There is a word in Scripture, anawim, which is used to describe the poor – but it doesn’t necessarily mean those who are financially poor. Rather, it can be the outcasts, the vulnerable, and those who lack power or authority. This does not sound like a state to be celebrated, but that is exactly what is praised in every single reading this weekend: the humble, the lowly and despised, and the poor in spirit.
Jesus blesses the poor in spirit, the clean of heart, the mourning, and the persecuted in the Beatitudes at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. To be clear: God never desires us to suffer. He does not rejoice in seeing us face trials or mourn. However, He allows it to draw us closer to His heart and to know His love better. I like to imagine that Jesus was maybe thinking of his parents when he gave the Beatitudes. Mary and Joseph were certainly members of the anawim who did not allow the difficulty of their situation in life to frustrate them. Likewise, I imagine what those in the crowd must have been feeling. They, who had been persecuted, mistreated, and struggled to live their faith, were seen by Jesus. He recognized their struggles and gave them real hope. We have all felt like the anawim at one time or another – maybe foolish, rejected, misunderstood, or cast aside. Take heart in Jesus’ promise of blessing, and bring that blessing to those in your life who might need it.