Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
We fear many things in our world in these times. The words of Isaiah are comforting: “Say to those whose hearts are frightened; Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, [who] comes with vindication; with divine recompense [God] comes to save you.”
Even nature thrives in God’s mercy and love. “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.” We worry a great deal about the state of our beautiful wild places, but here God promises healing of our lands and nature refuges as a reassurance of our own healing from sin and death.
The sin of destruction of our environment, and the serious evidence all around us of storms, wildfires, tornados, rising sea levels, floods, and increasing heat testify to our lack of care for our beautiful earth. But the earth, under God, resists our destructive actions and will warn us of our sin by the ferocity of its weather and wildness.
SHOW NO PARTIALITY
Not only do we at times show little care for the earth and its beauty, but we resist the command of God to care for each other in our need. James warns us not to give pride of place to those who are rich and obviously so. He points out the needy, those poorly dressed, and warns us to care for them and not to look down on them, for God sees their need and also their trust in God and love for others. It is such as these whom Jesus came to heal and give hope.
Similarly, in the reading from Isaiah, God’s coming is accompanied by the opening of the ears of the deaf and the eyes of the blind. God comes to make the lame leap and the mute sing. (So, everybody, please sing in church. It gives glory to God!)
Jesus came to give hope to the little ones, those who could not fulfill the laws of the Pharisees to keep kosher with separate jugs, kettles, and so on, because they were too poor to afford two of everything. They could not afford doctors or the healing practices of the time. But Jesus gave them hope.
A person who was lame and mute would have had no way to be made “normal” in those days. But Jesus has mercy on those in need, and he cured the deaf and mute man and restored him to his community.
In what way are we lacking in faith or in hope that we will be healed by Christ? We often forget how much God loves us and how close God is to us every day. If we could just remember this, we would not be afraid, would not feel inadequate in our dealings with the world, nor would we lack courage in protecting our world from destruction.
God loves us beyond any love we could comprehend, and stands ready to heal all our wounds and to bless us with the gifts of secure faith, firm hope, and love for each other in Christ.
Today’s Readings: Is 35:4–7a; Ps 146:7, 8–9, 9–10; Jas 2:1–5; Mk 7:31–37
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