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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

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This weekend our readings are all about Jesus making the deaf hear and the blind see Isaiah says in the first reading that the signs of God’s faithfulness and presence with the people, are when “the eyes of the blind are opened, and the ears of the deaf are cleared.” The physical signs of deafness and blindness are powerful symbols of being closed to the action of God. These days there are so many people who have closed their eyes and ears to the action of god in their lives. The letter of James in the second reading offers a cautionary word about making distinctions between people and many people do this especially when it comes to those of us who have any disabilities or weaknesses. It’s easy for all of us to be caught up in the standards of the world of our time and as a result we might miss the friends of God who may be those with nothing to offer us or at least that what it might seem to be. God’s preference for those who are poor according to this world is seen clearly in today’s Gospel. Jesus comes face to face with a deaf man who has a speech impediment. The man is doubly afflicted: he is a Gentile, regarded by the Jews as unclean, and is also physically disabled. Jesus takes him aside, away from the crowd, and cures his deafness and his stutter. Mark emphasises the response of the crowd, who publish their judgement that Jesus has done all things well.  Thus the messianic prophecy of Isaiah heard in the first reading is seen to be fulfilled: “the ears of the deaf [are] unsealed… and the eyes of the blind are opened”.

Jesus’s love is available to everyone, without any conditions attached. He is not disconcerted by the disabled; neither is he prejudiced against those weren’t members of his own race or religion as we see with this man. The uniqueness of Jesus was not employed to lord it over others, but to be of service to them. In his presence there is no need to hide one’s disability, no one has to remain isolated in a godless world, and no one has to be rejected. Jesus’ acceptance and love open up new possibilities; for him, nothing is settled. Prejudice, on the other hand, tries to settle everything and in reality settles nothing and causes so much hurt and anxiety.

We are people of faith, but our spiritual focus is often based on what we want. Many times we struggle between our “real needs” where god works through us. These shortcomings can lead us to discouragement many say that the “church does not fulfill my needs anymore”. On the other hand those same shortcomings can be turned around into a challenge for us to grow.

Through growth in faith, we begin to listen and understand. Then, we can speak clearly.  Our ears are no longer blocked. Our tongue is no longer held bound. Despite our shortcomings and weaknesses and all of us have many shortcomings, Jesus will touch our lives and call out to us. Are we prepared to open our ears to the call of Jesus and open our eyes to see the needs of all those around us as we are asked to do, so that people around us may say that united to Jesus in faith we have done all things well.

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