Reflection on the 4th Sunday of the Year A

(Matthew 5:1-12a)


In a world that emphasised affluence,  riches, and position of honour,  Jesus talks of poverty as a blessing. Who will understand that? In a world where poverty is a curse and everyone tries everything possible, even tries to package to look wealthy. Jesus addressed the poor to be blessed. Poverty is a state of lack, being in need, or not having what one wants. There are many different kinds of poverty: financial poverty,  intellectual poverty, psychological poverty, environmental poverty, spiritual poverty, etc. Jesus was specific about the kind of poor people He addressed today as blessed with the kingdom of heaven.

*THE POOR IN SPIRIT; Who are they*? The poor according to Matthew’s Gospel Jesus, meant those who knew their need for God. They are like beggars for things of the spirit. They gasp and pant for the ruah Adonai(breath of God) They feel lifeless without the Spirit of God. They can do anything to preserve the life that God gives. They can go to any extent to avoid whatever that doesn’t give God glory. They are those who long eagerly to be satisfied with blessings from above. They have the wisdom to understand that no matter what the world promises, what God promises is the best. They are those who have understood the transient nature of the things of this world. They may be powerful in the human definition, but for the fact that they know that their power is given to them, they discharge it according to the directives of the one who gave it to them. They are those who understand that the position they occupy today, another occupied yesterday and that they will not be there forever. For this they are humble. They are the wise people who do not feel secure in the security they think they have achieved; financially,  medically, politically, etc.  They know that there is a source to all they have, and because of this, they remain under the authority of God, respecting the dignity of their fellow human beings and living their lives without intimidating anyone.


The blessing Jesus gives to the poor is particularly for the poor in spirit.  The message is not for those who take themselves to be poor in the worldly usage of the term to clap for themselves and remain in poverty without making any effort. It is not a call for the rich to allow the poor to die in their poverty. It is not a licence for the world leaders, African leaders and even the Church to continue impoverishing the people and our world through their incentive policies. It is never a promotion of poor in the spirit teaching of Christ to give kudos to the negligence of the suffering in our midst. The poor in the spirit are not those who live unhappily because they do not have money or food and as such are ready to do anything at all without recourse to God. They are not the arrogant,  malicious and selfish people in the high and low classes. They are simply in both high and low classes but have chosen to take up the heaven attitude,  the attitude of being, the life of the beatitude which keeps them conscious of God as the all in all.


The whole eight beatitudes expressed our conditions of vulnerability on earth and our openness for divine assistance to reach our goal, which is heaven at last. The purpose for which Christ took His disciples to the mountain to announce these blessings is to make us focus on our heaven goal and never forget the roles we have to play to continue attracting God’s blessings.

In whatever you are facing today, you must see it in the beatitude. After each of them, there is blessings when you pass through them with the vision of Christ before you. They are encouraging words. They help us know that God is in control of everything happening around us.

So, if you’re poor in the spirit,  you’re blessed for the kingdom of God is for you. When you’re mourning, you’re blessed for God will comfort you. Are you meek? You’re blessed even when your meekness is misunderstood as a weakness by people around you. When it is for the sake of righteousness that people call you names and make fun of you, he will satisfy you. You are blessed for being merciful, pure in heart, being a peacemaker, and being persecuted. All these, when undertaking for the heavenly riches, in the spirit of the first beatitude open the kingdom of God for us where we shall be with Jesus as the head of the body, the Church.

In our longing to be poor in the spirit of the kingdom of God, may God bless His word in our hearts.


Thank You Jesus for taking us to the mountain of the beatitude where You spoke words of blessings for us as a people and for me as an individual. Make me recognise how empty I am without You. Continue to bless us here on earth and bring us safely into Your kingdom unhindered by the riches of this world that has become abuse and distractions for many. Continue to bless us in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen

Happy Sunday

*Rev Fr Julian O Ekeh*




(Zeph. 2:3, 3:12-13; 1 Cor.1:26-31; Matt. 5: 1- 12)


The gospel reports that ‘seeing the crowd’ Jesus went up the hill and taught them. Scholars have noticed that ‘the crowd’ especially in Matthew’s gospel is an interesting biblical theme, appearing at least fifty times in the gospel of Matthew. Matthew’s Jesus begins his public ministry in Galilee (4:17), and the crowds are introduced in 4:25 as the objects of that ministry. If we remember the nature of Galilee we spoke about last Sunday as a densely populated area of mixed people which one can call low and less privileged, and if we recall that the sermon on the mount (or beatitudes) as it is called, was delivered in Galilee of the nations, then we will appreciate the place of the crowd in today’s readings.

Also, the humble and lowly people of Zephaniah in the first reading can be identified with today’s crowd that was pronounced blessed. Paul in the second reading talked about those of us who were accounted as foolish and nothing by the world. It will not be too difficult that such people to be pulled out from the crowd. Jesus’ ministry was so much centred and directed to the crowd. It was the crowd that Jesus saw and felt sorry for because they were like sheep without a shepherd. It was the crowd that he often set about teaching for long hours. It was the crowd that was fed with few loaves and fish. Though the crowd can be remotely controlled by those in the leadership to shout crucify him, crucify him, Jesus knew that the crowd was just a mere victim of the unjust structures of the society. Because of the vulnerability of the crowd, Jesus did not get tired of ministering to the crowd and dying for crowd. What’s more, from the crowd, He chose disciples and people like you and I.

In a particular way in today’s Sermon on the Mount, he tells us why the crowd was really blessed. It has been one of the best good news and sermons ever preached. In the crowd, Jesus saw the individuals and their potential. In the Beatitudes, Jesus tells us exactly what the crowd was made of. The crowd was made of individuals that are poor in spirit, that is gentle, that mourned, that hungered and thirsted for righteousness, that is merciful, that are peacemakers, and that are persecuted for the cause of right. Only Jesus could look at the crowd and see individuals instead of a bunch of fools and stupid people. Only Jesus could look at the crowd and rather see individuals with immense talents, powers and capacities. Jesus was not seeing any amorphous crowd. That was why he could figure out the peacemakers among them, the merciful, and even those needing help like those mourning amongst the crowd. That is why Jesus pronounced them blessed.

It was in the potential of the individual members of the crowd that Jesus called them blessed. The individuals are blessed because in their pure hearts, they can see God, in their peace-making talents they are the real children of God, in their patience during persecutions, they are the real possessors of the kingdom, and those of them that are simple and poor in spirit, really are the owners of the kingdom. In affirming the individuals in the crowd, Jesus empowered them. He did not condescend to them, he empowered them by letting them know that their struggles are not in vain. That is the blessedness of the individuals in the abandoned crowd.

Jesus is not like our leaders and politicians who see the crowd only during elections and will use and abandon them. He is not like us who call the crowd stupid followers. He is not like us who open fire and shoot down the irate crowd demanding justice. He knows that there are individuals that can be popes, bishops, apostles and leaders among the crowd. He actually called people from the abandoned and rejected crowd. That is why St. Paul marvelled at the mystery of God’s call.

Today has a challenge first for those who belong to the crowd, and those the world seems to have abandoned.  Jesus tells us that he knows our struggles to be good Christians and that he sees every struggle. He tells us that he sees our daily morning mass attendance, even when nobody notices us in the parish. He tells us that he sees good efforts to reconcile and forgive in the families. He tells us that he notices all the sincere and honest struggles to make ends meet while trying to stay away from corruption for the sake of our faith.  He tells us that he sees every little kobo we donate in the church as pious members of our worshipping community. Jesus sees us individually and urges us to rejoice because we are blessed. What’s more, he calls us to continue to hope because he makes his mysterious choices from people like us.

Finally, those of us who do not see anything good with the crowd and the common people, especially leaders who only impoverish people just to use them as willing tools, are invited today to act like Jesus. People are not crowds but individuals in the crowd. Everyone possesses an immense capacity for blessedness. Everyone should be given the opportunity to emerge out of the crowd. Christians have that duty.   May we receive the blessings of God for all our endeavours.

Blessings unlimited









Things of great value usually come in small measure and are easily neglected; the same could be said of humility or a humble lifestyle. The readings today draw our attention to the virtue and life of humility as a true source of happiness here and hereafter. Humility is therefore meant to govern our everyday actions for our lives to be more profitable and for us to be truly happy and blessed by God. As the scripture already upholds; God detests the proud, exalts the lowly, and guarantees them a place in his kingdom. And the readings today tried to point out the benefits and blessings hidden in a humble life.

THE FIRST READING (ZEPH. 2: 3; 3: 12 – 13)

In the first reading, the prophet Zephaniah revealed God’s special preference for the humble and the lowly of heart and encouraged us to seek humility. The humble will always escape the wrath of God. The humble will always remain in the land. The humble will always find refuge in the name of the Lord. The humble are known for seeking righteousness, obeying God’s commands and fleeing from lies and deceit. Therefore, he who seeks and gains humility of life wins favour in the sight of God.

THE SECOND READING (1 COR. 1: 26 – 31)

In the second reading again, St. Paul reiterated God’s choice of what is weak, despised, foolish, and low over what is wise, powerful, noble, or strong, to shame the world. In the world, no one appears more weak, foolish, low and despised than a person of humble character. That which the world despises, God extols. There is no gain, therefore, boasting about our wisdom, beauty, strength, riches and might since it doesn’t attract God’s favour on us. We need humility to attract God’s attention, mercy and favour. If you think you have it all, then, God will allow you to do it all by yourself; and it wouldn’t take long before you are shamed with all your wisdom, riches and might and all your happiness also gone in the process. We can still learn a bit of humility from Mr Peter Obi, who in spite of all his academic qualifications and capacity, still humbly goes to morning Mass, still moves from Church to Church seeking God’s favour and approval.


In the gospel reading, Jesus delivered the beautiful sermon on the blessed and happy life which includes; the poor in spirit, the meek (the humble), the seekers of righteousness, the merciful in spirit, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and those who persevere in righteousness against all opposition and persecution. Only a man of a humble heart can embrace all these blessed lifestyles. The proud man can never be meek, merciful, peaceful, nor take any insult, persecution or even correction from anybody.


The first reading and the gospel reading have shown us that humility pays here and after. It is now left for us to cultivate humility for our own temporal and eternal benefits. A humble man first and foremost obeys God’s divine laws. A humble man seeks the face of God through prayer always. A humble man tolerates more than he judges others. A humble man accepts correction. A humble man is truly sorry and asks for forgiveness when he offends God or his neighbour. A humble man considers the good opinion of others. A humble man does not demand respect or praise more than he accords to others. A humble man has no problem seeing others increase while he decreases or is contended. A humble man is always happy and truly blessed for God is attracted to him. Be Humble and be happily blessed!

Happy Sunday!

Fr. Justin.

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