Ordinary Time 04, Year A
- He … did not spare his own son but handed him over for us all … (Rom. 8:32)
Blessed is Abraham, the father of believers, for his faith and the works of his faith, and especially for not withholding from the Lord God his beloved son Isaac (Gen. 22). Blessed also are Peter and his brother Andrew, for leaving at once their nets, and the Zebedee brothers, James and John, too, for immediately leaving their boat and father, to follow Jesus (Mt. 4:18-22). And blessed likewise is the poor widow for putting into the treasury only two small coins, but which represent her whole livelihood (Lk. 21:1-4).
Blessed is Rachel, moaning and bitterly weeping in Ramah. “She refuses to be consoled because her children are no more,” but is assured (Jer. 31:16-17):
- Cease your cries of mourning, wipe the tears from your eyes. The sorrow you have shown
- have its reward, says the Lord, they shall return from the enemy’s land. There is hope
- for your future, says the Lord, your sons shall return to their own borders.
Blessed with Rachel are all those mourning in Zion, too, for believing that they will receive comfort from the Lord, and a diadem instead of ashes, oil of gladness in place of mourning, a glorious mantle instead of a listless spirit (Is. 61:3). Blessed as well are Martha and Mary, along with those expressing their condolences, for believing in Jesus and in the power of his love and of his pleas to God for human beings (Jn. 11:21-22, 33-36).
Blessed is Jeremiah for entrusting his cause to the Lord of hosts as he is led, like a meek lamb, to slaughter by plotters who say, “Let us destroy the tree in its vigor; let us cut him off from the land of the living, so that his name will be spoken no more,” (Jer. 11/13:19). Blessed is Stephen also. Thrown out of the city and being stoned to death, he commends himself to the Lord, saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:58). Far from seeking the justice demanded by the principle of “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth” or calling fire from heaven to consume those who are not prepared to accept God’s will (cf. Lk. 9:52-56), Stephen prays rather, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” For there is really no forcing God’s hand; one ought only to wait patiently for Providence’ good time, in peace, with mercy toward those who reject God’s will, without any duplicity, devoid of self-serving agenda, witnessing to the truth and righteousness of the claims of Christian faith through one’s acceptance of insult, persecution and calumny.
Blessed, in short, are all those—the genuine followers of St. Vincent de Paul included—who are wholly devoted to God and radically dependent on him, living for him and not for themselves (cf. ). They form part of the remnant that is humble and lowly of Zephaniah’s prophecy and are among those whose calling is not made possible either by worldly wisdom or political power or noble birth but only by God’s initiative.
God's initiative, indeed, makes possible their calling. For they are wholly devoted to God and radically dependent on him because God was wholly devoted first and was radically dependent through his son Jesus—whose love made him offer his life for his beloved and who, for their sake, was made to be sin though he did not know sin, so that they might become the righteousness of God, and became poor, although he was rich, so that by his poverty they might become rich, and not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street, not quenching a smoldering wick (2 Cor. 5:21; 8:9; cf. 1 Jn. 4:10, 19; Is. 42:2-3).
Blessed first and foremost, therefore, is God, through whose goodness we have Jesus—the bread of life and spiritual drink for the hungry and thirsty, the unsurpassable and irrevocable blessing for the poor.