Homily Twenty-Third Sunday Year B Have faith in God

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Homily Twenty-Third Sunday Year B
Reading 1:
Background.  People are exiled in Babylonia because they broke their sacred covenant with God. Isaiah gives them a message of hope from God. He said that God will bring them back, just as he delivered their ancestors, who were in bondage in Egypt. As God purified their ancestors in the desert for forty years and led them into the Promised Land, so God will deliver those now in exile.

While in exile, many had become accustomed to their new homeland and didn’t want to leave. Some were frightened of the harshness of the journey. God’s response: do not be afraid. Isaiah reminds them that it is God who will lead them back to Judea. He is their savior.

Isaiah reminds the people that God will give them signs, just as he did as of old. The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the crippled will walk and dance, those mute will speak. God will provide water to drink even in the desert. Do not be afraid. Trust and obey.

How often do we need to hear the same comforting words in the midst of our difficulties! We may not be in exile, but we are confronted with our own problems, personal and social, political and ecclesial.

Reading 2:
The focus of this part of the Letter of James is the equality of faith. God shows no partiality. He gives everyone the grace of repentance and conversion, the grace of faith. The problem is that we, who have been so gifted freely by God, show partiality how we treat others in the community of faith.

If we do this, we are basing our treatment of one another, not on our common gift of faith, but on external human realities. In the case of the people James was addressing the problem was the distinction made between rich and poor. They gave preference to the material rich, the well dressed, the good looking, but looked down on the poor, the marginalized and the less attractive.

James reminds us that the way we treat others should be the way God treats us. He did not choose us because we were deserving but all of us were spiritually poor and in need of salvation, which comes through faith in Jesus. We should let the eyes of faith be the lens we use in our treatment of one another.

Jesus sees the faith expectation in the request of the people and in the eyes of the man afflicted by deafness and dumbness. Jesus knows he has come to proclaim the message of hope and salvation to a people in darkness. Jesus desired to bring healing and salvation to all, even those outside of the territory of Israel.

One of the signs of the new era God would bring, according to Isaiah in the first reading, was the opening of the ears to hear and the mute to speak.

Jesus is not about entertaining the crowds by performing a miracle. So he takes the man aside in order for the man to focus on how much God loves him. It is in this one to one encounter with Jesus that will remain riveted in the heart of the man and to which he will return again and again to reflect on.

The external signs Jesus use—touching, spittle, words—are sacramental in nature, namely, outward, visible signs of Jesus’ messianic power. At the baptism of a person, we do the same. We say over the ears and mouth as we make the sign of the cross on them: Be open so that you may hear the word of God and proclaim it to others.

The miracle is further enhanced because, not only does the man hear for the first time, but he is able to speak a language he has never heard or learned. He communicated clearly.
At the time, the reason Jesus said not to tell anyone is because they would see Jesus only as a miracle worker. Not until his death on the cross and his resurrection will they see him as the Lord and Messiah.

Today, we experience the Eucharistic miracle. As a result, we too need to go and proclaim to others the Good News of salvation and the marvelous love of God for us. We need to say: Fear not! Our God has come to save us. This gift is for everyone. Our faith and treatment should be a sign of that reality.

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