23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle B
Wis 1:13-15, 2:23-24, PS 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11, 12, 13, 2 COR 8:7, 9, 13-15, Gospel: MK 5:21-43
In American culture there is the idea of the 3 Monkeys who try to close themselves off from the evil of the world. In essence they reflect the state of the man in the Gospel today. These three Monkeys reflect our attitude about sin in our life - Let me pretend not to hear about the evil that someone does, let me pretend not to see evil in my presence, and let me not say anything about the evil that is going on around me.
I mention this cultural idea because I think that at some level it captures how we as Christians are infected by the ideas of the world, and take these ideas into our own life and relationship with Christ. We like to pretend that if we don't hear, don't see, and don't speak about sin then it won't exist.
This is not true.
I want to re-write this common idea - and change it to
- See the Truth
- Speak Hope
- Listen with ears of Faith.
Word of Truth
Jesus is in the region of the Decaopolis - which is pagan territory. He has gone to those who are the farthest from him, so seek out those who are trapped, and in need of healing.
The first message that Christ brings to us is the Truth - the Truth about the state of our life.
First of all, where are we at.
Are we deaf to the voice of God in our lives?
Think about that.
What is the one thing that is between you and God?
Another way to ask this is to say - What in my life is more important than my relationship with God?
- Your job?
- Your prestige?
- My Marriage?
- My Children?
- My hobbies / past-times?
- My Sin - that which cripples me and destroys me.
God is calling us to a deeper relationship with Himself.
Do we hear His voice and ignore him?
Do we drown out His voice with useless pursuits?
Facebook / video games
Are we mute? What stops us from imitating Christ and speaking God's truth to the world?
- Fear of what others will say / think?
- Fear of the cost / consequence?
- Fear that someone else might call us to task on our weakness? On our sinfulness?
There have been plenty of problems that have come to light over the past year.
- Selling the parts of aborted babies
- Demonizing imigrants for political gain
- Denouncing people of faith for living their faith?
What problem in my life am I blind to?
In what areas of my life do I look at life with the world's perspective rather than with Christ's perspective?
- What excuses do I use to justify my sin?
- This does not hurt anyone else?
- This is how God created me?
- It's not really that wrong?
- Contraception / Children / Marriage / Work / Neighbor
- Hardness of heart?
- Lack of Charity?
Where am I lame? Where do I refuse to act, or am unable to act?
- Do I feel helpless in a situation (against sin)
- Do I feel helpless to act (have I lost hope?) - There is no way that I can fix this!
- What is crippling me?
- What is holding me back?
Word of Hope
It is into this world - broken by sin, paralyzed by fear, blinded by selfishness, and silenced by oppression that Christ comes. He enters into this world in the flesh, and reaches out to us in our flesh, to our place of weakness, to the exact area of our life that is crippling our spiritual relationship with God, and he touches us this weekend. He touches us physically, body and blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist.
When Jesus encounters the mute and dumb man, he takes him away from the crowd to work with him. He touches the areas of this man's life that are crippled and says to him "Ephphatha - Be Open"
This is a word of hope to us today - Christ calls us to be open to His Grace in our life - and specifically in our sin.
In the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah the Lord promises:
- To the frightened: Be strong, fear not!
- To the blind - your eyes will be opened
- To the deaf - - your ears will be cleared
- To the lame - you will leap like a stag
- To the Mute - you will sing!
- To the desert - the wasteland - streams will burst forth.
One of the reasons why sin is so ugly is because it cripples us, it disfigures us and makes us ugly. Then is saps our will, so that we lay on the ground and are helpess, useless, unable to get up and to walk by faith.
To those who are trapped in this way - Christ says - Have Hope! I am here to heal you! I want to enter into your broken-ness and touch where you are wounded so that you can be healed!
Go back to the area's of your life where you are crippled. What word of Hope does God have for you today in this Mass?
- For the blind - What do you see now
- For the deaf - What do you hear now?
- For the mute - What must you say now?
- For the lame - What must you do now?
Word of Faith
In the second reading today St. James is teaching his congregation to act not according to the world's ways, but according to God's ways.
He invites us to respond to the healing that we have received by beginning to imitate Christ in our own actions.
In stead of responding to people as the world does - honoring the rich and despising the poor, James invites us to respond to people as Christ would
To honor both rich and poor alike with the gift of love.
This means that we don't pay attention to the external nature of the person , but rather to be authentically Christian both inside and out. To meet them where they are at, and in a special way to recognize that in weakness we have a unique opportunity to encounter the presence of Christ. In our own lives, in those of others. That we don't judge the others as the world does, but that we look upon others as Christ does.
To live a life of Love
The reason why Christ does all of this for us is to bring us into a deeper relationship with the Father. God is love and love constantly seeks to find the good for the other. This means that love is rooted in the truth - it is willing to endure suffering and difficult situations in order to get to the root of our wounded-ness.
Love is filled with Hope - it shows us a path to a better life - a life filled with the light of Christ. A life where we are healed and free to act fully as God created us.
Love is faithful - love is consistent. Love treats each person individually.
Just as in the Gospel, we are invited in this Mass to encounter the one who loves us the greatest, the most intimately, and from that encounter it is Christ who sends us into the world so that the people of the world can encounter His Love!