Zephaniah 2:3, 3:12-13
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
How many of you were born in a castle or a palace? Hmmm… I don’t see any hands. How many of you were born into a wealthy family like the Rockefeller’s, the Kennedy’s, or the Walton’s? Are there any mayors, governors or presidents in your family? Are you a millionaire, a famous movie star, or a super-bowl hero?
I don’t qualify, either. Well, chances are, without much money, power or fame, you and I are not going to make much of an impact on life here on earth, right?
Wrong. As a matter of fact, if we listen carefully to Paul’s letter to us today, we will see that you and I are very qualified to do great things. Let me explain.
Where was Jesus born? Not in a famous city. In the little town of Bethlehem. And not in a castle. In a stable, of all places. His mother and father were not famous. Mary was an unknown maiden. Joseph was just a carpenter. Both from the humble town of Nazareth. The message it that God often chooses unlikely people from unlikely places to do his work.
Okay, maybe it’s a stretch to compare ourselves to Mary and Joseph. So let’s look at the apostles. Who were they? Anybody outstanding? A few were fishermen. One was a tax collector. The others were so unknown we don’t even know what they did. These were the kind of people God choose then. These are the kind of people God chooses now.
And why? So that, as Paul tells us, humankind can do no boasting before the Lord. "Let him who would boast, boast in the Lord." That’s what Mary did. She saw that God was doing great things through her. So we have her beautiful hymn, the Magnificat, in which she proclaims, "God who is mighty has done great things to me. Holy is God’s name." Paul did a lot of boasting "in the Lord," wisely giving God all the credit for the success of his ministry.
The "poor in spirit" mentioned in our gospel today are those who are conscious of their total dependence upon God. Consequently they are open to learn, to receive, to achieve, and then give thanks. If we can bow low enough, hang on! God will do great things through us. Holy is God’s name.
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California. http://www.alanphillipcp.com/