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Scripture Reflections - September 5
23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Isaiah 35:4-7a
James 2:1-5
Mark 7:31-37

Archives Msgr Paul E. Whitmore
Msgr. Paul E. Whitmore

Ever since the terrorist attack at the World Trade Center, America has lived with fear and insecurity. This has steadily increased with the pandemic, and now with the terrible strengthening of the Taliban, Isis, Boko Haram and other terrorist organizations. Add to all of this increasing floods, fires and hurricanes, and it would seem that our world is spinning out of control.

In this Sunday’s first reading from Isaiah, the times were also tense. Both the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel and Judea were in grave danger from Assyria. Hope seemed futile. But then God tells them, “Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes to save you…” Then He adds, “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf will be cleared…”

Eight hundred years later, God’s Son, Jesus, fulfills that prophecy, as Mark tells us in today’s Gospel. Jesus is tired of the lack of faith and the constant attacks of the Pharisees in Judea and Galilee, so He travels up to pagan territory called the Decapolis (the Ten Cities). Here people are delighted to see Him. They bring before Him a man who can neither hear nor speak, and they beg Jesus to heal him. Taking the man aside, the Master heals him. At this, the Gentiles proclaim that the prophecy of Isaiah has been fulfilled through Jesus, saying, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

God’s word is always fulfilled. It may take a long time, but His power will always come through. In our own day, we need to pray harder and believe more strongly that God can heal the brokenness of our society, crush the evil that threatens, and restore peace and justice in our land. The price, of course, is for us to work harder for the poor and destitute, to relieve the poverty which has reached alarming proportions in our country. That often means sacrificing some of our own possessions. After all, God usually favors the poor. As St. James teaches us in today’s second reading, “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?” On Judgment Day, we will be happy to be counted among those who have little, rather than with those who have gathered much of the goods of this world but have failed to share them. For those in the Diocese of Ogdensburg, an excellent way to share is through this year’s Bishop’s Fund!

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