Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time; Lectionary: 128

September 8, 2018

Reading 1 Is 35:4-7a

Thus says the LORD:
Say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,

the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.
Streams will burst forth in the desert,
and rivers in the steppe.
The burning sands will become pools,
and the thirsty ground, springs of water.

-In the past few months we have all bit hit by revelations that can shake our faith.  Take these words very personally today.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10

  1. (1b) Praise the Lord, my soul!
    R. Alleluia.
    The God of Jacob keeps faith forever,
    secures justice for the oppressed,
    gives food to the hungry.
    The LORD sets captives free.
    R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
    R. Alleluia.
    The LORD gives sight to the blind;
    the LORD raises up those who were bowed down.
    The LORD loves the just;
    the LORD protects strangers.
    R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
    R. Alleluia.
    The fatherless and the widow the LORD sustains,
    but the way of the wicked he thwarts.
    The LORD shall reign forever;
    your God, O Zion, through all generations.
    R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
    R. Alleluia.

More hopeful words to take to heart.

Reading 2 Jas 2:1-5

My brothers and sisters, show no partiality
as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.
For if a man with gold rings and fine clothes

comes into your assembly,
and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in,
and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes
and say, “Sit here, please, ”
while you say to the poor one, “Stand there, ” or “Sit at my feet, ”
have you not made distinctions among yourselves
and become judges with evil designs?

Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters.
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?

-Being someone’s favorite can be very pleasant.  Seeing another favored more than you, not so much.  God plays no favorites, though it may look that way sometimes.  Like any good parent, God gives to each according to his or her need.  The smallest and weakest members of the body are clothed with greater care (I Cor. 12:23).  The wealthy are charged with being generous toward those who are poor.  The poor are charged with embodying the humility to which all of us are called.

Alleluia Cf. Mt 4:23

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

Gospel Mk 7:31-37

Again Jesus left the district of Tyre
and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee,
into the district of the Decapolis.
And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment
and begged him to lay his hand on him.
He took him off by himself away from the crowd.
He put his finger into the man’s ears
and, spitting, touched his tongue;
then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
“Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” —
And immediately the man’s ears were opened,
his speech impediment was removed,
and he spoke plainly.
He ordered them not to tell anyone.
But the more he ordered them not to,

the more they proclaimed it.
They were exceedingly astonished and they said,
“He has done all things well.
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

-Fame is the goal of many these days.  Those who cannot be famous for great skill or talent often seek fame through great evil.  Jesus does not seek this fame.  He orders those who were healed to be silent about it.  Why?  Because the popular notions of the Messiah as a healer were mixed with political and military images in the minds of many.  Somehow, the image of the Messiah as the suffering servant of God was not so popular.  It is perhaps even less popular in our own time.

Questions for discussion & Decision:

  • How healthy is my sense of hope these days?
  • How might I cultivate the virtue of hope within myself and in those around me?
  • What encourages me these days?
  • How might I be a source of encouragement for those God places along my way today?
  • What am I famous for among those who know me?
  • How might I make the Kingdom of God better known?

Let us pray! 

Lord, you are Holy above all others,

and all of the strength that I need is in your hands.
I am not asking, Lord, that you take this trial away.

Instead, I simply ask that Your will be done in my life.

Whatever that means, that is what I want.
But I admit that it’s hard, Lord.
Sometimes I feel like I can’t go on.

The pain and the fear are too much for me,

and I know that I don’t have the strength on my own to get through this.
I know that I can come to you, Jesus, and that you will hear my prayer.

I know that it is not your intent to bring me to this point

just to leave me in the wilderness alone.
Please, Lord, give me the strength that I need to face today.

I don’t have to worry about tomorrow.
If you just give me the strength that I need today that is all I need.
Keep me from sinning during this trial.

Instead, help me to keep my eyes on you.

You are the Holy Lord, and all of my hope rests in you.
Thank you for hearing my prayer.
In Jesus’ name.



Father John


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