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. (Zephaniah 3:12-13)
The prophets frequently took issue with the faith and religious observance of God’s people. This is certainly true of Zephaniah, who prophesied during the rule of King Josiah (640-609 BC), at a moment in Jewish history when the discovery of sacred texts in the Jerusalem temple occasioned a reform of the religious and political life of the nation.
While Zephaniah graphically denounced evil, both within Judah and in neighboring countries, and spoke soberly of the coming day of the Lord, he also proclaimed God’s love and mercy. Ultimately, Zephaniah offers a stirring vision of a restored Jerusalem, cleansed and renewed by the faith and integrity of a small remnant of God’s people. From this faithful remnant – in Hebrew, the anawim – will come a savior, the Messiah. In Jesus’ day, the anawim are the people of the Beatitudes.
The passage we hear today is an invitation to reflect on where God’s power is found. In a General Audience in May 2001, Pope Saint John Paul II said that the poor and the lowly “indicates not just the oppressed, the miserable, the persecuted for justice, but also those who, with fidelity to the moral teaching of the covenant with God, are marginalized by those who prefer to use violence, riches, and power.” He added, “The poor is not just a social category but a spiritual choice.”
Choosing to live differently than what the world around us defines as power; we recognize how our emptiness makes us most useful to God. Is there someone in your life who embodies this?
Let us pray:
God, rule over my intelligence through faith, over my heart through love, over my words and actions through a humble spirit. Amen. (Based on a quote from Saint Peter Julian Eymard)
Daily Eucharistic Reflection – Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (eucharisticevangelizing.com)
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