Sunday, September 6, 2009

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear All,

In this week’s Gospel according to Mark, Jesus is wandering on the fringes of Palestine, in the land to the north. In this story he is avoiding the hostility of his adversaries and instructing his followers who are travelling with him, free from the crowds during his teachings in Galilee. The miracle is relatively simple and straightforward. He took the deaf man with a speech impediment aside from the multitude and in a personal encounter with the Messiah privately said “Be opened” and his ears opened, his tongue was released and he went on to speak plainly. The miracle story is not only the recording of an actual incident in Jesus’ life, but also aimed at those members of the community (maybe even us today) having difficulties in hearing Jesus. So much noise in our lives, and not only in the sense of sound. There is noise in the sense of disturbance, like static on the phone line. In addition to all the audio noises, like TV, radio, the kids, the neighbors, cars, etc. there is also noise in turmoil in our lives created by our continual worrying about tomorrow and maybe the hanging on to the battle stories of the past. As Jesus called the man away from the crowd, so he is calling us away from the noises of our life to his quiet. A little quiet in our homes, a few minutes before the morning gets going, or after the kids are in bed… just a little time to get away from the noise. Jesus touched the man’s ear and he said “Be opened”. Like in the baptismal ritual the celebrant touches the mouth and ear of the newly baptized repeating the blessing from the Gospel, “Be opened”. When we hear the still, small voice Elijah heard in the cave, whispering that God loves us. Or we may hear Mary’s voice at the wedding feast of Cana reas-

suring the wine stewards and us, “Do whatever he tells you”.

Mark’s repeated theme is that Jesus did indeed do signs and wonders, but refused demands for spectacular signs, because he was not merely a wonder worker, but a prophet, a prophet who opens the hearts of all, as the First Reading from Isaiah suggests. Jesus makes real Isaiah’s prophecy from 800 years before, saying “to those (us?) whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God”, “he comes to save you” when “the ears of the deaf” will “be cleared” and “the tongue of the mute will sing”. Jesus makes this prophecy a reality for those that walked the earth with him and for us two thousand years later.

The Second Reading from the Letter of James is a first century invitation to avoid discrimination. To stay away from becoming judges of others and making distinction among rich and poor. God has indeed chosen “those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith”. Mother Teresa of Calcutta a very prominent example of the twentieth century, being present to the poorest in their weakest hour.

The complete text of the readings at

With God’s Love and Blessings,


For a Print version (pdf file) go to


  1. "the hanging on to the battle stories of the past"
    why is it so difficult to overcome them and let them go even after many years of harvested pain?

  2. The message came quickly, and it was a good one. Have a safe journey, and we'll see you on your return.