Fourth Sunday After Epiphany (Year A)
Scripture Readings*: Micah 6:1-8, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, Matthew 5:1-12, Psalm 15
The prophet condemns Israel’s leaders and shows the contrast between the corrupt society they had shaped and the glorious and peaceful kingdom to be formed by the coming Messiah/King. God yearns for His people to do good, and walk humbly with Him (vv.3-8). Anything less is displeasing to God. No society that is marked by violence, lying, and deceit will stand – especially when it is called by God’s Name.
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Paul’s key focus in this passage is that we dare not mix man’s wisdom with God’s revealed message: The cross. God’s wisdom is revealed primarily in the cross of Jesus Christ. Paul points out three different attitudes people have toward the cross:
1) Some will stumble at the cross (v.23a). The Jews were more impressed with miraculous signs, and the cross appeared to be weakness. 2) Some will laugh at the cross (v. 23b). This was the response of the Greeks. To them, the cross was foolishness. It (the cross) defied human wisdom. 3) Some will experience the power and wisdom of the cross (v. 24). Those who have been called by God’s grace and who have responded by faith, realize that Christ is God’s power and wisdom. In the death of Christ, God reveals the foolishness of man’s wisdom and the weakness of man’s power.
Matthew summarizes the preaching of Jesus in a passage known as the “Sermon on the Mount” (chaps. 5–7). Jesus begins with a series of statements known as the “Beatitudes” (5:1–12). These surprising statements of blessing underline the difference between human values and God’s, and call us to view life and success God’s way.
What A Fool Believes
The Doobie Brothers had it right… “What a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away.”
Today’s readings might well borrow this popular song for its theme. Just listen to the words of Jesus. “Blessed are the poor… those who mourn… the meek…” Then and now, those words run counter to our get-ahead strategies and philosophies. In a “might makes right” world, there’s no value in being meek. “Happy at all costs” trumps those who mourn any day. And in our “he who dies with the most toys wins” world, there’s no glory in being poor in spirit.
The words of Jesus are no less difficult today than they were when He spoke them more than 2000 years ago. And they are no less true.
So… what do you see?
Prayer for Fourth Sunday After Epiphany – “Almighty God, give grace that I may see and know You, revealing your love and life to those around me. Blessed be God forever. Amen.”
*Readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary, Year A