Saturday, September 09, 2006


23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 10, 2006
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - B

ISAIAH 35:4-7A
Thus says the LORD: Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be
strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with
divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind
be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap
like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing. Streams will burst
forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe. The burning sands will
become pools, and the thirsty ground, springs of water.

JAMES 2:1-5
My brothers and sisters, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith
in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For if a man with gold rings and
fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person in shabby
clothes also comes in, and you pay attention to the one wearing the
fine clothes and say, "Sit here, please," while you say to the poor
one, "Stand there," or "Sit at my feet," have you not made distinctions
among yourselves and become judges with evil designs? Listen, my
beloved brothers and sisters. Did not God choose those who are poor in
the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised
to those who love him?

MARK 7:31-37
Again Jesus left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the
Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis. And people brought
to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his
hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his
finger into the man's ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he
looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, "Ephphatha!"--that
is, "Be opened!"-- And immediately the man's ears were opened, his
speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. He ordered them
not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they
proclaimed it. They were exceedingly astonished and they said, "He has
done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."

Deafness is one of the worst handicaps that a person can have. One of
the tragic aspects of deafness is that it arouses little sympathy in
others. We usually reach out with great compassion to the blind and go
out of our way to help them. But we often get annoyed or even make fun
of people who are hard of hearing.

In today's Gospel reading Mark tells the story in unusual detail. We
read not merely of Jesus touching and speaking to the deaf-mute, but
touching the affected parts - the ears and the tongue of the deaf-mute
using saliva as a means of the healing. This more elaborate method of
healing instead of just a word of command is more appropriate for a
deaf man. The use of saliva for healing was quite common in ancient
times. The words "Be opened" were probably the first words the
deaf-mute ever heard.

In this story we can see the compassionate heart of Jesus, not only in
the physical healing of the deaf-mute, but also in expressing his love
and care by touching, and using the symbol that the person can
understand. For the sick person, he was the focus of the love and
attention of Jesus at that moment.

Jesus continues to heal people today. He gives the power of healing to
the Church, especially through the Sacrament of the Sick, sometimes
called the Sacrament of Healing, or the Anointing of the Sick.
Unfortunately, this Sacrament has been misunderstood and wrongly named
in the past. It is popularly known as "Extreme Unction" or "The Last
Sacrament," which focuses on the secondary purpose of the Sacrament,
which is to prepare a person for death if that is God's will at the
time. The Sacrament prepares him to go in peace and joy to the Father
in the company of Jesus. But because of the misunderstanding, people
often have a negative attitude toward the Sacrament. They wait until
the very last dying moment of the sick person before they frantically
look for a priest. And oftentimes it is too late.

It is important to remember that the primary purpose of the Sacrament
is to restore health of body and spirit to the sick person. Jesus in
today's Gospel uses saliva as the healing agent. The Church uses oil,
which is believed to have healing and strengthening quality as the
material for the Sacrament.

Aside from healing through the Sacrament of the Sick, Christ today
heals through the Church in a number of other ways. A great number of
hospitals are Church related. God heals through the skills and caring
actions of physicians and nurses. That's why a number of people would
go to the priest to receive the Sacrament of Healing before going for a
major operation.

More important, there is a spiritual side to today's Gospel reading -
the healing of the soul. Aside from the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a
number of people who were depressed, and overburdened with life's
problem have come to the parish for counseling and spiritual direction.
Usually after some talks and guidance in prayer, they would go out a
changed person - experiencing the peace and the freedom promised by
Jesus. They become stronger and hopeful. They go back a happy person.

When we are deaf to God's word, we become like those unfortunate who
are physically deaf: we are immersed in God's world, yet we understand
little of what is going on. We see people being born and people dying,
we see a lot of pain and heartaches, and we see everywhere violence and
strife, disappointment and failure, broken homes and broken live - and
we do not know why.

We also see some people radiantly happy, some beautiful and productive
lives, some people gracefully aging in eager anticipation of something
beyond death - and we do not see why. Yes indeed spiritual deafness is
a great misfortune!

The saving action of Jesus makes a person an effective Christian: a
believer and apostle. We cannot be effective apostle to others; we
cannot speak if we are dumb. We have nothing to speak about if we are
deaf, for we have heard nothing, we have no message to pass on to them.
And Jesus gives us the power to speak to witness to that message by our

Each Sunday liturgy is a reliving of the deaf-mute's experience. We are
made to hear the word of God and to respond to it through confession of

We pray ...
- for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the unborn.
- Birthday: Amelie Bernil
- Birthday: Charity M. Besinga
- for the personal intentions of Ertha Varon.
- for the healing of Bonnette, Joyce G, Bennie and Dustin.
- for the healing of Cherine.
- for the speedy recovery of Vicky's mom.
- for the speedy recovery of Elpidia Dorado-Pulutan
- for the speedy recovery of Lilian.
- for the eternal repose of the soul of Concordia Montero Guevarra
on her second death anniversary.
- for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary.
- In Memoriam (+): Ely A. Lee, Sr.
- for world peace and reconciliation.

Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our
prayers and for those who need our prayers the most.

Have a good day!

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� 2006 Daily-Homily

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