23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)
HOPE IN GOD, LISTEN TO GOD, SPEAK TO AND FOR GOD.
Dear friends, today’s Sunday liturgical readings encourage us to put our firm trust and unwavering hope in Our Lord Jesus Christ who brought about the salvation of all mankind.
- The 1st reading recounts the salvation which Israel awaits comes with great messianic signs of the coming of God’s kingdom. These signs include not only corporal healing but also a transformation of the entire creation:
“Thus says the Lord: Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing. Streams will burst forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe. The burning sands will become pools, and the thirsty ground, springs of water.
( Is 35:4–7a).”
- The Gospel speaks precisely of the compassionate saving power of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, when he healed the deaf mute man and the great impression he engraved in the hearts of those who witnessed the miracle: “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak (Mk 7:37).” Our Lord’s miracles confirm Isaiah’s prediction of the messianic coming under great signs.
- But a greater sign than bodily healing brought about by our Lord is his compassion towards the poor and the sick, which we Christians must imitate, an interior transformation which Our Lord expects from each one of us. St. James teaches us in the 2nd reading that our faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ must be manifested in the indiscriminate reception and equal respect towards all men, especially to the poor: “Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him (James 2:5)?” Our faith in Jesus should lead us to be compassionate to those who are in need and reject whatever type of partiality or prejudice against some persons, especially those who are suffering for whatever reason: physical, moral, spiritual, material…and do whatever is within our capacity to help, console and alleviate their suffering.
Having said the aforementioned ideas, I would like us to meditate on these two points:
- Jesus, the only and universal Savior of mankind, has already come and is with us! In Him only should we place our hope and trust, for He never abandons his own, even if apparently things might not be the way we wanted it to be. “Omnia possum in eo me confortat! I can do all things in Him who strengthens and comforts me (Phil 4:13).”
- It is worthwhile to meditate on the following words of St. Josemaria:
“Sometimes, when things turn out the very opposite of what we intended, we cry out spontaneously: ‘Lord, it’s all going wrong, every single thing I’m doing!’ The time has come for us to rectify our approach and say: ‘With you, Lord, I will make steady headway, because you are strength itself, quia tu es Deus fortitudo mea.’
I have asked you to keep on lifting your eyes up to Heaven as you go about your work, because hope encourages us to grasp hold of the strong hand which God never ceases to reach out to us, to keep us from losing our supernatural point of view. Let us persevere even when our passions rear up and attack us, attempting to imprison us within the narrow confines of our selfishness; or when puerile vanity makes us think we are the centre of the universe. I am convinced that unless I look upward, unless I have Jesus, I will never accomplish anything. And I know that the strength to conquer myself and to win comes from repeating that cry, ‘I can do all things in him who strengthens me,’ words which reflect God’s firm promise not to abandon his children if they do not abandon him (Friends of God, n. 213).”
Jesus cured the deaf man who regained his hearing. On this regard, Jesus cured our spiritual deafness and muteness during baptism so that we can listen to his Word and be witnesses of our faith.
In the ritual of Baptism, the priest touches the ears and mouth of the infant, the same gestures which Jesus did during the miracle, with the following prayer: “The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the dumb speak. May he soon touch your ears to receive his word, and your mouth to proclaim his faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father (Ritual of Baptism, Baptism of Infants).” AS CHRISTIANS, OUR EARS HAVE BEEN OPENED AND OUR TONGUE UNLOOSENED BY GOD IN ORDER TO LIVE A NEW WAY OF LIFE BY LISTENING TO HIS WORD AND ACTING ACCORDING TO IT AS HIS WITNESSES IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WORLD.
- It is a great occasion to examine ourselves whether we have our EARS READY TO LISTEN ATTENTIVELY TO GOD’S INSPIRATIONS which He directs to each one of us. Where and when? In our personal prayer, when we read the Bible, during the sacraments or through his instruments…God speaks to us in many ways!
- But we would not be able to listen to Him if we are not generous in dedicating some time exclusively for God: time for prayer, sacraments and interior recollection during our acts of piety (Gospel reading, reading of a spiritual book, examination of conscience at night before going to bed…) must form part of our daily schedule, gradually assimilating an act of piety one at a time, until we have acquired the good and stable habit. For this we need the help of a friend who can guide us spiritually.
- Moreover, we can also ask ourselves if we PROCLAIM OUR FAITH FIRST WITH OUR LIFE AND WHENEVER NECESSARY, WITH OUR WORDS. We cannot remain passive and indifferent especially when the enemies of Christ, the sowers of evil, are very active, vigorous and resolute in propagating their ideas which go against the dignity of the human person; when we see injustices abound in our surroundings; when we see that there are a lot of people who are lost…
- We cannot tolerate a dumb and mute attitude towards all these but rather make our voice heard, proclaiming the Christ’s teachings there and then where God placed us: in our home, at school, in our workplace…let us live the faith, proclaim the faith with deeds and words.
- Furthermore, spiritual deafness and muteness have grave consequences in our salvation. That is why it is necessary to live the virtues of sincerity (which includes simplicity and clarity) to speak out what is in our heart and of docility to listen and put into practice the advice received in the Sacrament of Confession and in spiritual direction so as not to be overcome by the “dumb devil” (cfr. Mk 9: 14-29). As St. Josemaria said: “If that dumb devil mentioned in the Gospel gets into your soul, he will spoil everything. On the other hand, if you get rid of him immediately, everything will turn out well; you will carry on merrily, and all will be well. Resolve firmly to be ‘savagely sincere’ in spiritual direction (always keeping your good manners) and to be sincere immediately (The Forge, 127).”
Dear friends, amidst the trials and difficulties in this present life, let us put all our hope in God’s love for us, trusting in His Providence and Omnipotence, convinced that He will never abandon us nor let us down as He knows best for each one of us.
As Christians, God opened our ears and loosened our tongue in order to receive His word and proclaim His Goodness. Let us overcome our love of comfort and cowardice in order to transmit and spread the faith, right there and then where He placed us, willing to be apostles of His mercy and compassion.
-Fr. Rolly Arjonillo, priest of Opus Dei. CATHOLICS STRIVING FOR HOLINESS. We are also in Facebook: www.facebook.com/CatholicsstrivingforHoliness Hope you like our page and invite your friends as well to do so in order to help more people.
A Blessed week ahead!
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