Commentary on the Gospel of
Prophet Zephaniah reminds us that ‘Messianic salvation is promised to all of the poor.’ In many cultures of the world, including African cultures, wealth was considered blessing from God; while poverty was despised as not finding favour with the gods. Till today most people pursue riches vigorously! But you know what, the One who comes, the Messiah, Jesus the Christ proclaims: ‘blessed are the poor!’
But why not? After all He came from the anawim and was welcomed by the anawim: born of the Blessed Virgin Mary and gladly welcomed by Simeon and Anna! The anawim, the poor of the Lord, those who wait in hope for the advent of the Christ, the Liberator and rejoice when He arrives! To qualify as a poor of the Lord, wealth holds the least place in their lives. All that matter for them is wait on the Lord: Messiah or nothing! This is the attitude required of us as we wait for the coming of our Lord: Jesus or nothing!
From the Gospel reading, we notice that one of the burdens, the heaviness we bear is sin. Just as excessive acquisition of wealth expands a person’s outlook, so does self-immersion into sin increase their pomposity. And the more pompous, the farther removed from the Lord. So, our Lord’s clarion call speaks for itself! He cites the people’s response to John the Baptist: ‘John came and sinners believed in him.’ – ‘the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.’
Our Lord Jesus Christ dares delve into the ‘great divide’ between “the holies” and “the sinners”; between the ‘sacrosanct’ Pharisees and the ‘publican’ sinners. The fact is that all of us are God’s children in need of his mercy and forgiveness. Forgiving and reconciling are twin actions that draw us very close to God’s cleanliness, God’s purity: they mark our true desire to commune with the Lord at His advent.