The eyes of the LORD are on those who do justice and God’s ears are open to their cry.
The face of YHWH is turned against evildoers, to cut off their memory from the earth.
The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
The responsorial psalm (34) helps us connect Zephaniah (3:1-2, 9-13) and Matthew (21:28-32). Zephaniah and Matthew are talking about responding to the word of God. They are talking about those who heed the call to justice.
Zephaniah is preaching reform at the same time as Jeremiah. Zephaniah is calling forth the just:
Thus says the LORD:
Woe to the city, rebellious and polluted,
to the tyrannical city! [Jerusalem]
She hears no voice,
accepts no correction;
In the LORD she has not trusted,
to her God she has not drawn near.
We hear God with the ears of our hearts. But rebellious Jerusalem does not hear and heed the word of God. God will therefore fashion a just remnant of the people who will live righteously. They will do justice. They will establish right order and right relationships. They will be faithful to God, to one another, and to all of creation.
God will establish justice:
For then will I remove from your midst
the proud braggarts,
And you shall no longer exalt yourself
on my holy mountain.
But 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.
The proud braggarts, the haughty, the greedy, the chief priests, elders and modern prelates will no longer exult themselves on God’s holy mountain—Jerusalem. Justice shall roll down like a mighty river. A mighty remnant of the faithful will carry on the works of justice. By the way, this is exactly what small “Catholic” faith communities around the country are doing as we speak. They know that many church leaders have said “Yes” but have failed to live by Gospel values.
The proud and the haughty are the chief priests and elders. They do not hear. They are intent on preserving what is, or what they think is. They want to maintain the unjust system that oppresses and impoverishes the people of God.
It is unfortunate that many of our bishops fall into this category. They do not hear the truth of God; they instead cling to error. Like the chief priests they are they say, “Yes” but do not do justice. For them truth is that only men are worthy to be ordained ministers in the Roman Church. They do not recognize that the imperial church with its patriarchal bent excluded women from their rightful roles in church leadership, including presiding over Eucharist. Tradition depends on how far you go back. If you go back far enough, there is historical evidence that women performed ministerial functions in the Jesus Community.
Women held leadership clerical positions in the Celtic church. Some think Brigid may have been a bishop. Nevertheless, as Rome consolidated patriarchal power in the 6th century, Cleric monks and women were marginalized.
Beware, Bishops. Bankers, stock brokers, tax collectors, and prostitutes may be getting into the Kin-dom before you because they will have listened and reversed their initial “No” to the works of justice. They will have heard the call to justice and heeded the call of God. Prelates, look at the picture above and tell us who came to the Supper.
Those who are oppressed by the high and haughty, whether they be secular leaders or church prelates, can take heart:
But the just cry out, and YHWH hears and rescues them from all their troubles.
YHWH is close to the brokenhearted and rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
Many are the afflictions of the just, and YHWH delivers them from all their troubles.
YHWH protects them to their very bones, and not one of them shall be broken. (15-20)
The Lord hears the cry of the poor. They will enter the Kin-dom before these who are treating them unjustly. When the poor and just cry out, God hears their call.