Saturday, September 08, 2012
23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – B
23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – B
Is 35:4-7a / Jas 2:1-5 / Mk 7:31-37
Say to those who are afraid: "Have courage, do not fear. See, your God comes, demanding justice. He is the God who rewards, the God who comes to save you." Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unsealed. Then will the lame leap as a hart and the tongue of the dumb sing and shout. For water will break out in the wilderness and streams gush forth from the desert. The thirsty ground will become a pool, the arid land springs of water. In the haunts where once reptiles lay, grass will grow with reeds and rushes.
My brothers and sisters, if you truly believe in our glorified Lord, Jesus Christ, you will not discriminate between persons. Suppose a person enters the synagogue where you are assembled, dressed magnificently and wearing a gold ring; at the same time, a poor person enters dressed in rags. If you focus your attention on the well-dressed and say, "Come and sit in the best seat," while to the poor one you say, "Stay standing or else sit down at my feet," have you not, in fact, made a distinction between the two? Have you not judged, using a double standard? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters, did God not choose the poor of this world to receive the riches of faith and to inherit the kingdom which he has promised to those who love him?
Again Jesus set out: from the country of Tyre he passed through Sidon and, skirting the sea of Galilee, he came to the territory of Decapolis. There a deaf man, who also had difficulty in speaking, was brought to him. They asked Jesus to lay his hand upon him. Jesus took him apart from the crowd, put his fingers into the man's ears, and touched his tongue with spittle. Then, looking up to heaven, he groaned and said to him, "Ephphata!" that is, "Be opened!" And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was loosened, and he began to speak clearly. Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone about it, but the more he insisted, the more they proclaimed it. The people were completely astonished and said, "He has done all things well; he makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak."
Today's readings describe the qualities of the Messiah that the Jewish faith had anticipated for so long, qualities that the gospel writers attribute to Jesus. In the second reading, St. James also suggests that those who accept Christ as Messiah must apply their faith to issues like social class and inequalities of wealth.
A purely personal faith without social ramifications is not the Messianic faith proclaimed by the New Testament. The first reading from the prophet Isaiah suggests a classic description of the Messiah: He would open the eyes of the blind, unseal the ears of the deaf, and make the tongues of the dumb sing for joy. The future age of the Messiah or the Reign of God, which the prophets talked about, would be a Reign where every kind of suffering and oppression, all the effects of sin, would be removed, and men and women would be made whole.
Now, God's Kingdom was not something in the future anymore; it had arrived and was here now, in the person and the work of Jesus. The Gospel writers established Jesus' identity as the Messiah, fulfilling all the ancient hopes and expectations of the Chosen People. On another level, though, we can read all the stories of Jesus' healings as applying to ourselves in some way. The men and women who were cured by Jesus stand for every believer being converted and restored to wholeness by their encounter with Jesus. The cure that Jesus performed on that occasion is thus an image of the way God's grace acts on us and changes us. He opens our ears to hear the Gospel message and he loosens our tongue to give public witness to the faith, speaking up for the truth and for our Christian beliefs and values when the occasion demands it. The best example of that for us is, as usual, Jesus himself.
All religious faiths value highly the vocation of the pure contemplative, and the community of faith is impoverished if it lacks individuals who are dedicated to the search for greater mystical union with God. But Jesus himself was not a pure mystic who disappeared into the desert to worship God in private. Jesus' own need for lengthy periods of silent and solitary prayer are certainly well-documented, but his vocation to proclaim God's Reign in words and actions threw him into a very public role, which involved a lot of debate and controversy. That activity on Jesus' part makes it clear that faith in God cannot just affect us in our interior life, but rather inevitably demands that we take a certain public stance, even if it is only a matter of the values that come into play in the way we treat other people. In fact we need to be suspicious of any version of Christian faith that encourages us to retreat from questions of social or economic justice into some purely spiritual or other-worldly realm.
The Gospel and the second reading from St. James' letter are connected on this point: in God's Kingdom no distinctions exist based on money or social class, and so there should be no such distinctions in the community of the Church either. Just because class distinctions are inevitable does not mean they are morally right or even neutral. Like anything else that arises from our sinful desire to refuse fellowship with and responsibility for each other, class divisions are offensive to God. And so, what James is saying is that class distinctions should have no place in the Christian community, no matter what arrangements hold sway in wider society.
As the Church community, we do not reflect deeply enough, perhaps, on the fact that one of the first things that the first generations of Christians did, after witnessing the resurrected Jesus and after their experience of receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, was to translate the new Covenant with God into social and economic terms. They immediately abandoned the principle of private property rights and organized themselves into a more or less communist society, owning all things in common, and sharing everything.
Perhaps we do not place enough stress on this action of the first Christians as establishing a norm and a standard of perfection. Again, it is not so much a matter of seeking to alter the shape of society at large. What James is concerned with is that principles of equality and fraternity, a sense of responsibility of each one for the others, a shared material simplicity rather than the desire to enrich oneself at the expense of others, should be the rule and the pattern of social life among the followers of Jesus.
We pray …
… for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the unborn.
… for the speedy recovery and healing of
- Fr. Ismael Zuloaga, SJ
- Emilie, Elias Cesar Manuel, Elias Angelo
- Mon Torres
- Fleur Torres
- Ditas dela Paz
… for the eternal repose of the souls of
- Ruben M. Pasion
Eternal rest grant unto them and may perpetual light shine upon them. May they and all the dearly departed rest in peace.
… for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary.
- Birthday: Evelyn Bautista
- Birthday: Gianfranco V. Amurao
- Birthday: Joyce Tiu
- Birthday: Lily Dee
- Birthday: Angela Ong
- Wedding Anniversary: Benedict & Rachelle Tan
- In Memoriam (+): Natividad Lontoc de las Alas
… for families who are in need of healing
… 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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