Sept 6, 2015 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Fr Jim Miller

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sept 6, 2015

Reading 1 Is 35:4-7a

Responsorial Psalm Ps 146:7, 8-9, 9-10

R. (1b) Praise the Lord, my soul!

Reading 2 Jas 2:1-5

Alleluia cf. Mt 4:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus proclaimed the Gospel of the kingdom
and cured every disease among the people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 7:31-37

Homily— September 5 & 6, 2015


   From the Book of the Prophet Isaiah we have the words  “Thus says the Lord;  Say to those whose hearts are frightened:  Be strong, fear not!”  After the events of this week on 17th Street and the area of Embassy West one could understand why we would have a heightened sense of vigilance and of concern.  When a perpetrator says the person was in the wrong place at the wrong time and that ‘he did it because he had nothing better to do’ we are dealing with a type of terrorism that defies reason. I can only remember the phrase that I was taught many years ago “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop”.  Normally I expect those involved to be in some kind of relationship—not a random encounter. Then I find out that the victim is Nancy Krapfl , the sister of Fr. Gary Krapfl and the now deceased Fr. Dan Krapfl. How can a person do such cowardly acts to another?   What kind of thoughts and images did he allow into his mind that would lead him to disrespect a woman old enough to be his grandmother?  How have we as a society failed our young people? Can we allow evil to reign in Dubuque? What did he put into his mind and body? Was it pornography and drugs?  I suspect both were a part of his life. I praise God he was caught so quickly. Why can’t a woman go for an early morning walk in the cool of the day? I think of the women of Jesus time going to His tomb while it was still dark.

   In the gospel the people bring a deaf man who has a speech impediment to Jesus and they beg him to heal the man. Only the Gospel of Mark has this story. It calls to mind the prophecy of Isaiah heard in the first reading, “Then will…the ears of the deaf be cleared”.  It is a sign of the coming Messiah.

   Jesus’ action of taking the man off by himself in private was a Marcan literary signal that what followed would be a significant manifestation of Jesus’ power and or his message.In this instance, Jesus’ cure of the deaf-mute man was a revelation of his messiahship and the beginning of the long-awaited era of salvation.

   The miracles Jesus performs reveal his own divine power, his own compassion for the human condition, his own mission. Jesus cares for each of us, dares enough to reach out and touch us!  What must be proclaimed is not the sign itself, but that to which it points:  God’s Presence bringing salvation.

   A daycare teacher mentioned to a mother the possibility that her young son might have a hearing problem.  Stunned, the mother asked why the teacher thought this.  The teacher responded, “He doesn’t pronounce his words correctly.”  At first the young mother thought it was ridiculous to assume her child had a hearing problem just on the basis of poor pronunciation, although after a hearing check, it was found the child did indeed have a problem.

   If we cannot hear, we cannot speak properly. The miracle in today’s reading cured a man’s hearing. Hearing properly, he could speak properly.

   We must hear Jesus clearly.  We must make sure our hearing is truly open, or we will not speak properly either. Our words might be properly pronounced, but our choice of words might reveal our continuing inability to hear Jesus as He meant to be heard.

   “Love one another as I have loved you.”  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  These words must be heard with open ears and open hearts. If they are not, then we might discover that we do have a handicap. Our handicap may not be physical. It may be that we have a handicap of the heart.

   In terms of Christian discipleship, we must come to know Jesus before we can proclaim who he is.  Looking to mighty deeds that we think may be unfolding around us today—reports of miracles, etc.—is not where this gospel leads us.  Rather, the gospel leads us to see Christ in the little things around us—the caring touch, the encouraging smile, the unexpected friendly phone call—and interpret these as evidence of God’s Presence and salvation.  We ought to be “astonished” today by the many manifestations of God’s Presence in and through the people around us.  We ought to be astonished at how God uses us as instruments to proclaim the Good News of salvation.  We ought to be so keyed into Jesus’ Presence that we, too, cannot contain ourselves, but must proclaim God’s mighty deeds to anyone who has ears to hear.

   I challenge you to write a history of your faith journey that you could share with others.