Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2012
In the second reading from the Letter of St. James the words “My brothers and sisters, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith” touch our heart just as they did the early Christian communities he was writing. We must ask ourselves, how often do I prejudge someone because how the way they dress, the way they talk or based upon the color of their skin? How well do I welcome the outcast, the sinner, the rejected and neglected? It is a challenge; we all have prejudices, biases and preferences. Therefore we must regularly reexamine those thoughts, those pre-judgments that arise in our hearts and attempt to understand where they come from and how to move past them.
As I reflected on the message in today’s Gospel reading from Mark chapter 7, I was struck by the fact that Jesus took the deaf man that was brought to him, away from the crowd. I imagine the crowd was not very compassionate and was probably a bit hostile. The deaf man was the outsider, the rejected one, the one who was different. The crowd was probably ridiculing him and making fun of the man. The unruly crowd probably doubted Jesus' ability and were making fun of him too. Therefore Jesus took the deaf man off by himself, away from the taunting of the crowd where he could show him love and compassion. Jesus said “Ephphatha!"-- that is, "Be opened!” What are the prejudices which we need to “be opened” in our lives? After the deaf mans ears were opened the scriptures notes that the crowds were converted, they “proclaimed” what they had witnessed to other people. Are we willing to be open to God's works in us and to be converted?
In many ways these scripture passages demonstrate how Glenmary attempts to serve in our mission areas. We go to places where the Catholic Church is not established, where the people do not have the opportunity to hear the Good News, places where there is no Sunday mass being celebrated, places where people have no opportunity to receive the sacraments, places that have in many ways been rejected and neglected. Glenmary Home Missioners goes to the places where most people do not want to go. Glenmary reaches out to the poor, the rejected, the oppressed, the outsiders and we try to share with them the compassion and love that Christ teaches us.