23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
14th Sunday After Pentecost
September 10, 2006
Reflections on the Readings by Dennis Hankins
Readings: Isaiah 35:4-7a; Psalm 146:7-10
James 2:1-5; Mark 7:31-37
Theme: Here is Your God
It is the God of Eden remembered and exalted in today’s readings.
All of the language of the 1st reading reminds us of the pastoral scene of the Garden of Eden. That which has been taken over by sin is redeemed. Even the effects of sin on creation are removed and the desert and the sands are filled with pools of water. This is the very picture of redeeming grace. The mute sing, the deaf hear and the eyes of the blind are filled with light. All of this reminds us of Adam and Eve and their friendship with God in the Garden.
It is the mission of the Church to proclaim to the world, “Here is your God.” He is not the God of doom and gloom. He is not angry and mad at you. Worship of Him is not under an eye of divine scrutiny. The happy and blessed parish is that parish that knows and proclaims that the God of Jacob keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry and sets captives free.
So much is the Church a place of divine favor that the poor and the rich have equal access to the throne of Grace. The table of Lord is not reserved for the highest giver. At the table of the Lord the man in fine clothes and the person in shabby clothes are heirs of the kingdom together. Indeed when the priest declares, “Here is your God,” he gives the poor and the rich the same food. May we ever remember it was for our sake Christ became poor so we would never forget God has chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith.
In the gospel today is echoed Isaiah’s pronouncement. The people were astonished and said, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” It is St. Mark who links Jesus to the God of the Garden. To the deaf man’s ears he says, “Be opened.” O that our ears could hear these words in a fresh way today. The dullness of hearing is too often our predicament. Do we fathom that God is here. God in is infinite goodness is among us. And if we ask Him he will touch our ears and our hearts and our eyes. No longer must he be a God who is far off and unknowable. Hallelujah!
The Lord gives sight to the blind.
The Lord raises up those who are bowed down.
The Lord loves the just.
The Lord protects the strangers.
Today we see as it were, Eden restored. It was there God communed with his people and blessed them. And now that same God, in the face of Jesus Christ is making all things new and doing good things among us. Even Jesus couldn’t keep himself from being made known. He who is mighty to save willed to us his very life so we might live and move and have our being in Him. Through Jesus Christ we have access by the Spirit into the very presence of God. Hear St. Paul preaching in a culture not too different than ours: Paul, standing in the middle of the Are-op'agus, said: "Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, 'To an unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. (Acts 17: 22-23) With St. Paul, with Isaiah, with the church let us say, “Here is your God.”
Let us Pray: Dear Jesus, let me be your light where there is darkness, let me be your voice where there is ignorance, let me be your love where there is hardness of heart. Amen.
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