Our “in residence” priest (helping out at the parish in return for housing while he attends classes at the JPII Center (I think that’s where he is)) homed in on the first line of the first reading (Zep 2:3, 3:12-13) for today’s homily: “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth…” He suggested that today’s readings tell us how to seek the God–not through being high and mighty, or influential, or rich and famous, but through being humble and focusing on our individual calling. Really, only through living the way God has planned for us can we see Him.
The thread runs through the second reading (1 Cor 1:26-31), which ends with the famous line, “Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord.” In this reading, St. Paul is reminding the people of Corinth that only through Jesus’ redemptive suffering that we can come before God. [Although not mentioned in the homily, the lines about God using the foolish to shame the wise and so on call to mind Isaiah and the stone which the builders rejected passages.] Our priest noted that St. Paul was underscoring for the Corinthians that, as Christians, they would need to live contrary to the prevailing morals of the world, and possibly die for it.
Following the theme into the Gospel (Mt 5:1-12a), we have the beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…” The point of the homily was that Jesus picks up on Zephaniah’s call for the humble to seek God, and elaborates upon it. Our priest went on to note that it doesn’t rule out accumulating wealth, what the beatitudes do warn against is being too comfortable, and giving up our morals to make a way in the world. It is better to be poor in spirit, to mourn, to be meek, to be merciful, and so on (that is, conformed to God’s will) rather than following the prevailing “wisdom” of the world and going against God just to be comfortable, wealthy, or influential in the eyes of the world.
What this brought to my mind (probably not entirely keeping with the intention of the homily, but…) is that we in the U.S. put too much faith in our politicians and political system, rather than putting faith in God. Case in point: the current and previous presidents. President Obama came in on a wave of high-minded rhetoric, and people believed he would save the country (from what it is unclear, but from something). President Trump has come in appealing to a population that has felt excluded from the political system for a long time (I grew up in a flyover part of a flyover state, so I get being ignored and discounted by politicians), and they think he will fix everything. The problem is, the government’s job is decidedly not to save us or to fix everything (that goes double for the person of the president). It’s our job to respond to God’s call faithfully, and if that means “fixing” something, then so be it. Most likely, our response to that call is going to result in ridicule, ostracism, and (at least for the early Christians) possibly death. But that’s OK because we do have our reward for conforming our will to God’s, which is the only way we can ever actually seek, and find, Him.