Monday, September 10, 2012

Homily: 23rd Sunday in Ordinary time cycle B

One of my favorite compliments is when people tell me that when I am speaking during mass they can hear every word that I say clearly and loudly.  I really appreciate that because I try to be clear and understandable.

However, I have my own way of detecting and finding out if I am being loud enough.  If I hear someone's hearing aid whistling, screeching, or buzzing then I know that I'm projecting my voice enough.  That sound may drive other people crazy but I know that when I hear it others can hear me clearly.

I find that even a young man like myself needs a bit of help hearing.  If I find myself in a place with a lot of background noise then it is difficult for me to hear what others are saying clearly.

Our world has a lot of background noise.  How often we do find that it is hard to hear God speaking to us over the noise of our lives?  Do you even try to listen or is it easy to tune God out?  In some sense I think we all need "Divine hearing aids" today.  There is just that much noise and it is just that hard to hear what God is saying.

In a sense that is what the Gospel is about today.  Jesus decides to take the long way to get to where He wants to go.  Along His journey He enters a gentile town.  This was not a place where any Jewish people lived.  Even there He shared the Gospel and they were deeply moved by what they heard.  So they brought Jesus a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment.

Jesus decides to work a miracle for this man but it is important to notice what He does and ask the question of "why" He does it.  Jesus takes the man away from the others and He performs a powerful miracle where the hearing of that man in completely restored and he regains that ability to speak.

But notice that Jesus commands that the man not tell anyone about the miracle... Think about this.  Does this make any sense?

Jesus gives someone back the ability to speak clearly and then He tells him not to say anything.  Whenever we hear this in the Gospel of Mark it is always a clue that something else is going on.  In other words, Jesus is giving us a clue as to what He is really doing.

Jesus did not want to man to proclaim Him as a miracle worker.  Jesus did not come simply to work miracles or to work magic, or even to be a healer.  Rather He came to proclaim the Kingdom of God.  His miracles are proof that His message is valid and that God really is in control and can "put this world right."  Miracles are a sign post telling us that God's Kingdom has come.  But the miracles are not the main theme of the Kingdom of God so Jesus did not want the man to tell everyone about just the miracle.

The message that Jesus does want proclaimed is what we hear in the first reading.  We are all told to proclaim God's power and ability to save.  Everyone is told to proclaim the Kingdom of God and not just Jesus' miracles.  The challenge becomes how to know exactly, how to understand, what the Kingdom of God is.

Our second reading, from James, continues to tell us what the Kingdom of God is all about.  Last week we heard that "religion that is pure" is where we care for the widow and the orphan.  Today we hear that we are not to show partiality between the rich and the poor.  We are also reminded that it is to the poor that the Kingdom of God is promised.  

So if you are looking to understand, in a deeper way, what the Kingdom of God is then the best, and easiest way, is to care for the poor.  They are the heirs to the Kingdom and to care for the, to serve them, we can come to understand how God is at work in the world and how His Kingdom is growing in our world.

It is true that any Christian community where the poor are not welcomed or served has lost its connection to Christ.  It is also true that for any Christian who does not serve the poor, in some way, then they fail to remain connected to Christ.

The whole point of Jesus working miracles was to proclaim the Kingdom of God here on earth.  First and foremost that Kingdom is promised to the poor.  If we want to have our ears opened to understand what that Kingdom is all about then our lives must be lived in such a way as to make the lives of the poor better.

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