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cappie

TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

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cappie

Today we continue to hear the Gospel of Mark proclaimed. In today’s reading, Jesus heals a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment. This is a story about Jesus’ healing power, and in it we find clues about how we understand a sacrament. Jesus uses physical means used to heal the man, the use of spittle and touch. The Church continues to celebrate the sacraments using physical means. In the Sacrament of Baptism, water and oil are used to show the power of the Holy Spirit. In the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, we are anointed with holy oil on the forehead and the hands. In the Eucharist, bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ. We are a sacramental people who believe that God’s grace is given to us through these physical signs. We also notice how personal and physical the drama is in the Gospel. Our focus is drawn to a hand, a finger, ears, a tongue, spitting. In Jesus, Mark shows us, God has truly come in the flesh.

Mark shows that Jesus’ own mission affirms the early Church’s mission to the Gentiles. This was a significant issue to the early Christian community, which found that the good news of Jesus took root and spread quickly among the Gentiles.  Mark also deliberately evokes Isaiah’s promise, which we hear in today’s First Reading, that God will make the deaf hear and the mute speak. He even uses a Greek word to describe the man’s condition (mogilalon, or “speech impediment”) that’s only found in one other place in the Bible—in the Greek translation of today’s Isaiah passage, where the prophet describes the “dumb” singing.

The crowd recognizes that Jesus is doing what the prophet had foretold. But Mark wants us to see something far greater—that, to use the words from today’s First Reading: “Here is your God.”

What He has done is to make all things new, a new creation. As Isaiah promised, He has made the living waters of Baptism flow in the desert of the world. He has set captives free from their sins, as we sing in today’s Psalm. He has come that rich and poor might dine together in the Eucharistic feast, as James tells us in today’s Epistle.

The Jewish people use the word mitzvah, which is often translated good deed. But rabbis will tell you that it means more—it comes from the root word “tzavta”, which means connection or commandment. Connection is a lovely translation. Whenever we share with the poor, speak out against injustice (especially when the injustice is right in front of our eyes), or respond with love to another, we are establishing a connection. That connection is not only between us and another person, but also between ourselves and God.

“The Lord is the maker of us all…” We dare not forget this but isn’t it a much better mitzvah for us all to look on each other with the same love with which God looks on each one of us!

He has done for each of us what He did for that deaf mute. He has opened our ears to hear the Word of God and loosed our tongues that we might sing praises to Him.

Let us then, in the Eucharist, again give thanks to our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. Let us say with Isaiah, here is our God, He comes to save us. Let us be rich in faith, that we might inherit the kingdom promised to those who love Him.

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