23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

     Have you ever stopped to think what people 500 years from now will think about our society? Well if they come across a copy of our newscasts and use that to draw conclusions about our culture they will certainly be surprised that the world still exists. After all it seems that every time we turn on the news all we see is evil and suffering. It’s to the point that I find myself trying to stay away from the news, not because I want to be uniformed but because I find that if I pay too much attention to the news, I have a tendency to become overwhelmed by the evil and suffering and find myself slipping into hopelessness, bitterness, and cynicism.

     If this is you, then the prophet Isaiah is speaking directly to you in today’s first reading. Here Isaiah speaks words of encouragement that God is coming to heal and liberate. God is coming to set things right. He tells his audience that when God comes He will do all kinds of amazing things like make the deaf hear and the mute sing. Well what happens in today’s Gospel? Jesus makes the deaf man hear. Jesus, the Son of God has come and has proved who He is by fulfilling the prophecies of the Old Testament prophets, but sadly, many people who witnessed his miraculous works remained in their hopelessness, bitterness, and cynicism?

     What about us? I’m afraid that our world has been surrounded by so much evil noise that it can be easy for us to become deaf to the great things God is working in our society. That’s where we as Catholic Christians come into play. Since we like Isaiah, know that even amidst the evil around us God will have the final word. Our “Christian optimism is based on the fact that we don’t fit into the world.”[1] We know that even though sin and death abounds all around us, Jesus has already conquered sin and death. It’s our job then to speak up, to break the deafness of evil and allow people to hear the saving message of Jesus Christ. After all “to follow Christ means to become one who loves as God has loved.”[2]

     You see, for thousands of years God has been using all kinds of people; saints and sinners, rich and poor, wise and foolish, young and old, men and women, to do spread His message of hope. Since our world is still broken and sinful, He is calling us to bring His hope to the discouraged, to break the deafness of evil. And in today’s Gospel He shows us how to do this?

     Did you notice how Jesus approached the deaf man in today’s gospel? Did you notice that He doesn’t hurry up and get rid of the man? Rather He takes Him aside from the crowd and gives the man His full attention. He focuses solely on this man and what He needs and then He literally gives of himself to help him.

     Since “charity is an expression of God and an extension of Christ’s presence in the world”[3] we are called to imitate Christ and get involved with the people who need us and are unable to help themselves. Sometimes this means that we must get our hands dirty and give of ourselves. We must perform our kindness with the same gentleness and consideration that Jesus brought to this deaf man. No matter how dark our world seems to get we must have our ears opened to understand that “the other person is always a treasure and a precious gift that God offers to help us grow in humility, humanity and nobility.”[4] For when we imitate how Jesus treated the deaf man in today’s Gospel we too can open the ears of the world. We can sow hope and begin to heal and restore our culture.

     Friends, if we want to break the deafness to evil that exists in our society today we need to do small things with great love. Isn’t it amazing how being the recipient of a simple act of kindness can change our whole outlook for the day and can spur us on to continue that chain of kindness? We can be tempted to hear the evil in the news and feel that we can do nothing to change it, but we can never forget that if we can help at least one person to have a better life, that already justifies the offering of our lives.[5]

[1] Chesterton, GK. Orthodoxy 1905 Reprint in Lexington, KY April 2013. Pg 79.

[2] Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. .Dogma and Preaching Applying Christian Doctrine to Daily Life. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011.  Pg. 129.

[3] Robert Cardinal Sarah. God or Nothing: A Conversation on Faith with Nicolas Dias San Francisco: Ignatius (2015) Pg. 78.

[4] Robert Cardinal Sarah. The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise with Nicolas Dias San Francisco: Ignatius (2017). Pg 81.

[5] Pope Francis. Evangelii Gaudium. Washington DC: USCCB. (2014). Pg. 133.

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