Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
January 29, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.



To seek the Lord means to make his glory the end of all our actions; to live and work in his presence, for him only and not for ourselves. (Schuster)






Grant us, Lord our God,
that we may honor you with all our mind,
and love everyone in truth of heart.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen. (RM)

Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in
heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of
your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through
Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the
Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP).

Holy God,
you confound the world’s wisdom
in giving your kingdom to the lowly
and the pure in heart.
Give us such a hunger and thirst for justice
and perseverance in striving for peace,
that by our words and deeds
the world may see the promise of your kingdom,
revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever. Amen. (BCW)

First Reading Zep 2:3, 3:12-13

Seek the LORD, all you humble of the earth,
who have observed his law;
seek justice, seek humility;
perhaps you may be sheltered
on the day of the LORD's anger.

But I will leave as a remnant in your midst
a people humble and lowly,
who shall take refuge in the name of the LORD:
the remnant of Israel.
They shall do no wrong
and speak no lies;
nor shall there be found in their mouths
a deceitful tongue;
they shall pasture and couch their flocks
with none to disturb them.

Responsorial Psalm 146:6-7,8-9,9-10

R/. Blessed are the poor in spirit; the kingdom of heaven is theirs!

The LORD keeps faith forever,
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets captives free.

The LORD gives sight to the blind;
the LORD raises up those who were bowed down.
The LORD loves the just;
the LORD protects strangers.

The fatherless and the widow the LORD sustains,
but the way of the wicked he thwarts.
The LORD shall reign forever;
your God, O Zion, through all generations. Alleluia.



Who is like the Lord our God who dwells on high and looks down on that which is humble in heaven and on earth? V/. He raises the needy from the earth and lifts up the poor out of the mire.

The Gradual is drawn from Psalm cxii, in which is praised the excellence of Jehovah, who looks down not only on the earth, but even on the heights of heaven as on the depths of an abyss. Although the Lord is enthroned on high, yet humility has power to draw him to itself. From this exalted throne he hears the voice of him who is lowly and wretched, and, coming down swiftly to his aid, he raises him up and carries him off in his arms until he brings him to the highest place in his heavenly kingdom.

Second Reading 1 Cor 1:26-31

Consider your own calling, brothers and sisters.
Not many of you were wise by human standards,
not many were powerful,
not many were of noble birth.
Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise,
and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong,
and God chose the lowly and despised of the world,
those who count for nothing,
to reduce to nothing those who are something,
so that no human being might boast before God.
It is due to him that you are in Christ Jesus,
who became for us wisdom from God,
as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,
so that, as it is written,
"Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord."

Gospel Acclamation Mt 5:12a


Alleluia.  I will bow down toward your holy temple, and give thanks to your name. Allelúia.

Gospel Mt 5:1-12a

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven."

Reflection Questions

How do you seek justice and humility?

How are you tempted to boast?

In what ways do you count yourself “blessed” in light of the Beatitudes?

Catena Nova

To this assembly have come not only the disciples, as if they were leaving behind the multitudes, as they did in the case of the Beatitudes.  Rather, there are great crowds here, many of whom are deaf or suffer from many afflictions.  Look at the crowds who come to this mountain where the Son of God sits.  Some of them have become deaf to the things that have been promised.  Others have become blind in soul, not looking toward the true light. Others are lame and not able to walk according to reason. Others are maimed and unable to work profitably.   Each of these who are suffering in soul from such things go up along with the multitudes into the mountain where Jesus sits.  Some who do not draw near to the feet of Jesus are not healed. But those who are brought by the multitude and cast at His feet are being healed.  Even those who come only to the edges, just the extremities of the body of Christ, who feel themselves unworthy to obtain such things, are being healed.... And so the multitudes are astonished at beholding the transformations that are taking place. (Origen of Alexandria)

Do not suppose that by heaven here is meant the upper regions of the sky of this visible world, for your reward is not to be placed in things that are seen, but by “in heaven” understand the spiritual firmament, where everlasting righteousness dwells. Those then whose joy is in things spiritual will even here have some foretaste of that reward; but it will be made perfect in every part when this mortal shall have put on immortality. (St. Augustine  of Hippo)

While our Lord and Saviour was going the rounds of the various cities and regions preaching and healing every disease and infirmity among the people, he saw the crowds coming to him and went up on the mountain, as today’s reading tells us. There is a fittingness in this: the Most High God goes up to a high place in order to preach a lofty message to those who desire to reach the heights of virtue. It is appropriate that the new law should be promulgated on a mountain, because it was on a mountain that the law had been given to Moses. The old law comprised ten commandments that were intended to guide its adherents on the path of instruction and discipline in this present life; the new law consists of eight beatitudes, because it lead its followers to eternal life and the heavenly fatherland. (St. Chromatius of Aquileia)

In the Beatitudes something of the celestial grandeur breaks through. They are no mere formulas for superior ethics, but tidings of sacred and supreme reality’s entry into the world. (Romano Guardini)

Blessed be the politician with a lofty sense and deep understanding of his role. Blessed be the politician who personally exemplifies credibility. Blessed be the politician who works for the common good and not his or her own interest. Blessed be the politician who remains consistent. Blessed be the politician who works for unity. Blessed be the politician who works to accomplish radical change. Blessed be the politician who is capable of listening. Blessed be the politician who is without fear. (Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyá»…n Vãn Thuận)

The key feature of blessedness is that it involves living a deliberately chosen and cultivated sort of life which is not involved in the power and violence of the world, and which because of this fact, makes the ones living it immensely vulnerable to being turned into victims. That is the center of the ethic as taught by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. (James Alison)

In his Beatitudes, in his extraordinary concern for the outcasts and marginalized, in his wholly unconventional treatment of women, in his love of children, in his rejection of the belief that high-ranking men are the favorites of God, in his subversive proclamation of a new order in which domination will give way to compassion and communion, Jesus brought to fruition the prophetic longing for the “kingdom of God” --- an expression we might paraphrase as “God’s domination-free order. (Walter Wink)


Mountain or Hill?

         For a few weeks following Epiphany during "Year A" of the Lectionary cycle we hear some passages from the Sermon the Mount beginning with the beginning —  the Eight Beatitudes — Jesus' program for his disciples' conduct.   And let's face it — it's a steep climb up that mountain.  If we are in mourning or persecuted for our faith it might be especially hard to think of ourselves as "blessed."   With the endless reports of tragedies such as last week's mass shootings and police misconduct leading to devastating loss of life, I wouldn't want to tell survivors how "blessed" they are.  Nor to the estimated 360 million believers currently facing persecution throughout the world — Nigeria being the epicenter where 90% of the over 5,000 Christians killed last year were from (The Catholic World Report; January 18, 2023).  The latest example being Fr. Isaac Achi shot and burned to death by Islamist insurgents inside his own rectory two weeks go (Crux; January 18, 2023).

      Perhaps the climb is a bit less steep for the poor in spirit, the meek, those hungry and thirsty for righteousness, the clean of heart, and the peacemakers.  But let's face it — here too it's a pretty rocky road especially in a culture like ours whose values can be in jarring contrast to those of the gospel.  Take the following "anti-Beatitudes" and see if they sound more like the ones held in affluent societies like our own — trust me, no hiking boots needed!

“Blessed are the rich, for theirs is the world by the tail.

Blessed are the carefree, for they do not need to be comfort­ed.

Blessed are the aggressive, for they will get ahead.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for what’s coming to them, they will be contented.

Blessed are the well-established, for they will never need mercy shown to them.

Blessed are they without scruple, for they will see success.

Blessed are they who confront, for they will be called their own person.

Blessed are they who agree with the crowd for the sake of getting along, theirs is the easy way out.

Blessed are you when they flatter you, and seek after you, and utter every kind of praise about you on your own account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in this life.”  

      Now lest I sound like the Beatitudes are hopeless ideals without much practical value, I would like to share something that struck me during Pope Francis' homily New Year's Eve at Vespers.  My ears perked up when I heard him repeating the Italian word gentilezza — which can be translated "kindness" — but also carries meanings like gentleness, consideration of others, and warmth of heart.  Here is Francis:

Kindness is an important aspect of the culture of dialogue, and dialogue is indispensable to live in peace, to live as brothers and sisters, who do not always agree – this is normal – but who nevertheless speak to each other, listen to each other and try to understand each other and to move toward one another.…It is not only an issue of “good manners”; it is not a question of “etiquette”, of courteous behaviour…. No. This is not what we mean when speaking of kindness. Instead, it is a virtue to be retrieved and practiced every day in order to go against the tide and to humanize our societies.

Saint Paul…speaks of the fruit of the Holy Spirit among which one is mentioned using the Greek word chrestotes (cf. Gal 5:22). This is the one that we can understand as “kindness”: a benevolent attitude that sustains and comforts others and avoids any form of roughness and harshness. It is a way of treating one’s neighbour taking care not to be hurtful through words or actions; trying to lighten others’ burdens, to encourage, to comfort, to console, without ever humiliating, mortifying or despising.

Kindness is an antidote against several pathologies of our societies: an antidote against cruelty, which can unfortunately creep in like poison seeps into the heart, intoxicating relationships; an antidote against anxiety and distracted frenzy that makes us focus on ourselves, closing others off.  These “illnesses” of our everyday lives make us aggressive, make us incapable of asking “may I”, or even saying “sorry”, or of simply saying “thank you”. These three extremely human words for living together: may I, sorry, thank you. With these three words, we move forward in peace, in human friendship. They are the words of kindness: may I, sorry, thank you.

Dear brothers and sisters, I think that retrieving kindness as a personal and civic virtue might help a great deal to improve life within families, communities and cities…. Experience teaches that kindness, if it becomes a style of life, can create a healthy living together, it can humanize social relationships, diffusing aggression and indifference. (December 31, 2022; references to the encyclical Fratelli tutti omitted).

     Perhaps you will agree that this teaching helps place the Beatitudes within reach, less of a steep climb, and more like walking up an incline.  For they all elicit, it seems to me, one form of kindness or another.  And just so you know, Wikipedia notes how the "Mount" where the sermon was preached is really a hill in northern Israel in a place called the Korazim Plateau, 200 meters above the Sea of Galilee, 25 meters below sea level and hence one of the lowest summits in the world.  So shall we put on our walking shoes and give it a try? 

Intercessions (Joe Milner;  The Sunday Website)

For all disciples: that we may recognize the Blessedness given us by the Spirit and manifest it in our lives through loving sacrifice, deeds of justice, and words of compassion.

For the grace to be poor in Spirit: that we may recognize our poverty whenever God is not at the center of our life and decisions.

For all who mourn: that they may know God’s presence this day and that we may stand with them and support them through their grief.

For all who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for those who have been abused, unjustly imprisoned, suffered discrimination, and those who work to empower the marginalized: that the Spirit of God will guide their deeds and strengthen their spirits.

For peacemakers, for those who promote dialogue and understanding within families or between nations, racial groups, or gangs: that God will bless and make fruitful their efforts.

For all who show mercy, for those who care for the sick and elderly, and for those who assist those who are in need: that the face and love of God may continue to shine through them.

For all who suffer for the sake of Christ, for those who live in communities that are hostile to Christians, for those imprisoned or persecuted because of the Gospel: that they may have courage and hope as they live the paschal mystery today.

O God,
teach us the hidden wisdom of the gospel,
so that we may hunger and thirst for holiness,
work tirelessly for peace,
and be counted among those
who seek first the blessedness of your kingdom.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Antiphon


Offertory Hymn (John Michael Talbot)

Blessed are the poor in spirit

Theirs is the kingdom of heaven

Blessed are those who mourn
They shall be comforted
They shall be comforted
Blessed are the lowly of heart
They shall inherit the earth
Blest are those who hunger for God
Nevermore shall they hunger or thirst
Nevermore shall they hunger or thirst

Blessings upon the disciples of Jesus

Blessings upon all the multitudes
Blessings upon those who climb the mountain
With Jesus the Lord, with Jesus our Lord

Blessed are those who show mercy

They shall inherit the mercy of God
Blessed are the pure of heart
They shall see the face of God
They shall see the face of God

Blest are those who strive for peace

They shall be the children of God
Blest are those who suffer for holiness
Theirs is the kingdom of God
Theirs is the kingdom of God

 Communion Antiphon

The Antiphon for the Communion is taken from today's Gospel of the Beatitudes. The world has an insatiable thirst for happiness and here the Eternal Truth teaches men how to attain it, as standing on the Mount, he sets forth as it were the decalogue of happiness. Blessed are those whose heart is clean, for they shall see God; blessed are those who keep their hearts untroubled, for they shall be known as the true sons of God, the author of peace ; blessed are those who endure persecution for the cause of virtue, for they will receive endless life and joy in exchange for the life and joy they have sacrificed here.

Closing Hymn


In your kingdom remember us, O Lord.

How blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
How blessed are those who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.

How blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.
How blessed are those who hunger
and thirst after righteousness,
for they shall be filled.

How blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.
How blessed are the pure in heart,
for they shall see God.

How blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called the children of God.
How blessed are those who are persecuted
for righteousness' sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

How blessed are you when men shall revile you
and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you
falsely for My sake.

Rejoice and be exceeding glad,
for great is your reward in heaven.

In your kingdom remember us, O Lord.