September 9, 2012 – Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Is 35:4-7a; Ps 146:7, 8-9, 9-10; Jas 2:1-5; Mk 7:31-37
During the Rite of Infant Baptism, the priest or deacon blesses the newly baptized child’s ears and mouth, making the sign of the cross over each as he prays, “The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the dumb speak. May He soon touch your ears to hear His word and your mouth to proclaim His Faith to the praise and glory of God the Father.”
This simple act is a beautiful reminder that part of our baptismal call is to proclaim the good works of God — those He has done and those He continues to do. We are called, at our baptisms, to be His disciples, and as such, to bear witness to Him in the world.
Today’s readings emphasize the almighty power of God and the good works He does out of love for all people.
First, we hear the prophet Isaiah proclaim the mighty works of God. “Here is your God, … He comes to save you. The eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf will be cleared; then will the lame will leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing” (first reading). The prophet promises a time of restoration, a time when Israel will see great blessings by the Lord. And in the gospel reading, we see his prophecy fulfilled. Christ has come to save the people, to restore the world, and He compassionately cares for those in need.
“Immediately the man’s ears were opened and his speech impediment was removed” (gospel).
Here we see the first reading from Isaiah fulfilled. Jesus literally heals a deaf man. Indeed, He works wonders. And while today’s readings draw our attention to the wondrous works of God, they point us to do more than simply recognize the miracles He has performed. They encourage us to proclaim the good news that Christ has come to save us all — the rich and the poor as the second reading assures us, the blind and the lame and those who don’t experience any obvious physical ailments. We all need Jesus, and He is here for us, calling us to Himself. All that we must do is choose to turn to Him, to give ourselves to Him.
It is interesting to note, near the end of Mark’s gospel reading, Jesus tells those who witnessed the healing of the deaf man not to say anything about what they had seen. He doesn’t want people to misinterpret His mission, to see Him as simply a wonder worker. Yet, the people are so filled with awe, they can’t keep quiet, and they proclaim His good works everywhere.
We may not have ever witnessed a miracle of such tremendously obvious proportions in our lives, but none of us can say that we have not witnessed God’s overwhelming goodness, His extreme generosity, and His works of love. He is constantly caring for us, giving us everything we need, and, as His disciples, we know that He has come to save us — miracle of miracles. Like the people in today’s gospel, we shouldn’t be able to keep our mouths shut. We ought to be moved to proclaim the Lord’s praises to the ends of the earth, and, following the example of those in today’s gospel, we should do so boldly. All that we say and do, the way in which we live our lives should bear witness to the goodness of the Lord. He is a wonderfully good God, full of power, rich in love, and eager to bring every single person into unity with Him — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Let’s spread the word!