September 9, 2018 —Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
IS 35:4-7A; PS 146:6-10; JAS 2:1-5; MK 7:31-37
Today’s readings offer beautiful illustrations of two of the “Four Pillars of Parish Stewardship” — hospitality and service — and the joy that a life lived for others can bring.
Our second reading, from the letter of St. James, teaches that all are equally worthy of our hospitality. We must welcome and serve everyone who walks through our church’s doors, extending warmth and a dignified greeting to all. The person who wanders in late to Mass, who is not dressed to our personal standards, may be just the person who is most in need of Christ’s love. Sometimes we can offer that love simply with a smile and offer to come and sit next to us in “our” pew.
The Gospel reading from Mark demonstrates the connection between hospitality and service. In this passage we find Jesus on the go, and “people brought to Him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged Him to lay His hand on him.” These people had already heard the Good News that Jesus was preaching.
In response, they reached out to a man who literally could not hear and brought him close to Jesus so that he could receive the Good News, too. This is true service and hospitality at its finest.
Jesus responds immediately with a miraculous healing. He blessed those whose service and hospitality had made this encounter possible, confirming their faith to such an extent that they could not stop themselves from proclaiming the wonder they had witnessed.
This week, let’s challenge ourselves to step out of our comfort zone to reach out to someone who needs to hear the Good News of Jesus. We may just find ourselves astonished at what miracles He accomplishes!