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Jesus challenged us

Zeph 2.3,3.12-13; 1 Cor 1.26-31; Mt 5.1-12a

The theme of the faithful remnant runs throughout the Hebrew bible. It describes the few who, despite enemy invasions, corrupt leaders and the despair of many ordinary Jews, still cling to the ancient covenant that God gave to his people.

We see this hope breaking out in the words of Zephaniah, one of the last prophets before Jerusalem was sacked and its population deported to Babylon, “They shall do no wrong and speak no lies.” (Zeph 3.13) Paul reminds the first Christians in Corinth that they have been chosen despite their lowly birth and status for God has chosen the ‘lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing.” (1 Cor 1.27) When Matthew recalled Jesus’ charter of the blessed ( 5.1-12a, often called the Sermon on the Mount), perhaps forty years after his master’s death, Jewish Christians had likely seen the destruction of Jerusalem and their banishment from the synagogues.

Being a remnant, in this sense, is not a question of numbers. In the Western world and in our nation of New Zealand, Christian numbers are large. But to live life as Jesus challenged his followers, to live every day out of a desire to be poor in spirit, meek and merciful, is an enormous challenge. Let each one of us pray we may strive to embrace that vision and lifestyle in the coming year, 2023.

Source: 4th Sunday year A1

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