6th September 2015 – 23 Sunday in Ordinary Time

Theme: JESUS MAKES THE DEAF HEAR AND THE DUMB SPEAK

  • Isaiah 35:4-7;
  • Psalm 145 (146): 7-10. R. v. 1;
  • James 2:1-5
  • Mark 7:31-37

Today is the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The gospel today tells us that Jesus makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak!

Many years ago when I was in Kuching, I visited the school for the deaf and dumb with some seminarians. And we were told that people visit the blind, the sick, the aged and the disabled, but not many visit the deaf and the dumb. And we were told visit them more often! People cannot see the suffering of the deaf and dumb. But the deaf and dumb suffer because they cannot hear people speak to them and they cannot speak to people. They cannot communicate and without communication there can be no community and communion. The words communication, community and communion come from the same Latin root word communis meaning common.

Communication is essential not only for the deaf and dumb, but for everybody! A marriage will not last if there is no communication. A marriage will not last if the husband does not speak to his wife and listen to his wife; and the wife does not speak to her husband and listen to her husband. And even if a marriage last without communication it will not be a happy and loving marriage. We cannot love someone we do not know! Communication is both listening and speaking and not only speaking or only listening!

The same can be said of the family. If there is no communication in the family, the family cannot be a happy and loving family; if parents do not speak to their children and listen to them and if children do not speak to their parents and listen to them, then the family cannot be a happy and loving family. Again, we cannot love someone we do not know!

God created us to know him, to love him, to serve him and to be happy with him! In the same way, God created us to know one another, to love one another, to serve one another and to be happy with one another! If we do not know one another, we cannot love one another, we cannot serve one another, and we cannot be happy with one another! It is a basic Human and Christian need to know, love, serve and to be happy with one another!

But today, ironically, with the advance of modern communications technology our communication within marriage and the family have been compromised. With the advance of the television, the internet, the handphone, the “iphone”, the “ipad”, etc., communication between husband and wife and between parents and children has been compromised!

Husbands and wives spend too much time at the television, the internet, the “ipad”, etc., that they do not have time for each other. They do not have time to communicate with each other! Parents and children spend too much time at the television, the internet, the “ipad”, the handphone, the “iphone”, etc., that they have no time for each other. They do not have time to communicate with each other!

That is why it is essential that the family eat dinner together everyday and speak and listen to one another and switch off the television, the handphone, the internet, etc.! A glass of wine or two may help in the conversation and communication!

More importantly, the gospel today tells us that Jesus heals us of our spiritual deafness and our spiritual dumbness so that we can hear the word of God and speak to God in prayer; so that we can communicate with God and be in community and communion with God who is love, joy and peace! We communicate with God at Mass! At the “Liturgy of the Word” we listen to God speaking to us and at the “Prayer of the Faithful” we speak to God in prayer! At the “Liturgy of the Eucharist”, especially at the “Eucharistic Prayer” we speak to God in prayer!

Again, with the advance of modern communications technology even our communication with God has been compromised! We do not listen to God speaking to us in the word of God and we do not speak to God in prayer, but we are distracted by our handphones, “sms” (short message service), “texting”, “iphone”, etc. And we also distract others in the congregation. We have to switch off our handphones during Mass!

We have 168 hours in a week, if we spend 1 hour with God in a week, God will bless the other 167 hours of our week!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the Lord does not only heal us of our deafness and dumbness, but the Lord also heals us of our blindness and lameness! The Lord does not only heal us of our blindness and lameness, but the Lord also makes water flow in abundance in the desert to give life to the desert! In other words, the Lord saves us!

The first reading tells us about salvation! The first reading is a prophecy on the return of the exile from Babylon, the second Exodus, and the final salvation for the Jews! But for us it is the salvation by Jesus who makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a hymn of praise to God the Savior especially of the oppressed and helpless! (NJBC; Craghan) Thus the response: “My soul, give praise to the Lord.” (Ps 145 (146): 1; SM)

The responsorial psalm itself tells us of salvation by God, especially of the oppressed and helpless!

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading tells us two important things! The second reading tells us that we have to treat the rich and the poor equally! (CCB) We must not tell the rich to sit on the best seats and tell the poor to sit on the floor! More importantly, the second reading tells us that rich or poor, we have to be “poor in spirit” (Mt 5:3)! (IBC) That is, we have to depend on God for our salvation!

Today in this Mass we thank God for his Son Jesus who makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak. And we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we may continue to speak to one another and listen to one another and so that we may continue to listen to God and speak to God in prayer and so that we may be in community and communion with God and neighbor! We also ask God to help us treat the rich and the poor equally and to help us to be “poor in spirit”, that is, to depend on God for our salvation! A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you! Amen!

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Msgr Nicholas Ong DD View All →

Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.

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