4th Sunday after the Epiphany
January 29, 2017
When stress is within our comfort zone, it can help us to stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save our life. But beyond our comfort zone, stress stops being helpful and can start causing major damage to our mind and body.
In our Gospel reading today in Matthew 5:1-12, the stress level of the crowd seemed to be at a higher level; so much so that when Jesus saw them, He was deeply moved and led the people to a mountain summit. Here it was serene, peaceful and quiet, so that they could hear and listen to Jesus’ message that brought spiritual healing. The Israelites at that time could not rely on the Pharisees, Sadducees or scribes who were supposed to be their spiritual leaders or shepherds. They could not counsel, comfort or advise the crowds because most of them were looking after their own personal interest, which caused them to be spiritually blind (Matt 15:14; Matt. 23:16). Few received any revelation knowledge from God; their minds became dull (Matt. 13:14-15) just like in the time of the prophet Micah, when the rulers were being denounced. It was like night to them without vision, and darkness for them without divination. (Micah 3:5). But Jesus, the Righteous One, opened the spiritual eyes of the crowd by reminding them that they were all blessed despite their present condition.
God’s creation of man was a complete success; we are all fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14). We are not destined to be destroyed because confrontation and conflict will be used for His glory. It is man who destroys God's creation because of lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). Now, since the Spirit of Christ is in us, our spiritual eyes have been opened and we are set free from the bondage of slavery to sin and death (2 Cor. 3:17). How blessed we are! We are all challenged to go up to the mountain of the Lord so that we will know His ways and that we may walk in His paths (Micah 4:2). He also wants us to know His righteous acts by requiring us to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with Him (Micah 6:5).