Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time


By Lisa Fernandes

Today is the fourth Sunday after Epiphany. Epiphany has three meanings. The first meaning when capitalized, refers to the twelfth day of Christmas (January 6th observed January 8th this year) in the Western Catholic Church and is a Feast Day celebrating the first appearance of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi. The second meaning refers to the appearance of a divine being to man and the third meaning refers to a revelation or “aha” moment which may or may not be spiritual, such as when an apple fell leading Sir Isaac Newton to formulate his theory of gravity.

I was reminded of one of the most profound divine epiphanies in the Catholic Church when I recently visited an exhibit at the Aga Khan Museum called “Syria: A Living History.” I saw a beautiful silver plaque dated 550-600 of Saint Paul on the Road to Damascus. Paul the Apostle was a Pharisee who persecuted Christians. In those days he was called Saul. His view changed on the Road to Damascus when he saw a blinding light from heaven: He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do” (Acts 9:5). After that he became a follower of Jesus. The exhibit showcased the rich history of Syrians and its Christian community which is one of the oldest in the world going back two millennia. We are reminded of the sad state of affairs today in Syria where Christians are in peril and some of them are coming here to Canada as refugees.

Today’s readings remind us how God favours the less fortunate and the poor. For example, in the second reading we read: “But God what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God” (1 Cor. 1:27-29). And in the Gospel, the Beatitudes go on to call those who may seem to be afflicted as actually blessed as they receive God’s compassion and mercy: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matt. 5:3-6). With the plight of refugees becoming worse, perhaps now we can remember the gifts the Magi brought to the newborn Christ and continue to give the Syrian refugees the gift of freedom. Sunday’s

Readings: Zephaniah 2.3,3.12-13; 1 Corinthians 1.26-31; Matthew 5.1-12