Homily September 6, 2015 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted in Called, christian, Faith, homily, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on September 2, 2015

23 suToday’s gospels interesting as Mark tells us that Jesus traveled from Tyre to Sidon to the Sea of Galilee to Decapolis, a part of the gentile world outside Israel. The trip was a fairly long one considering they walked and Sidon was 26 miles north of Tyre before heading southeast to the Sea of Galilee and Decapolis. In Mark’s gospel, to this point there have been numerous signs and miracles done by Jesus. From this point on, Mark only records today’s miracle and four more in his gospel. Jesus in today’s gospel chooses a deaf man with speech problems to cure, and he is a gentile. For Mark, many think there is a symbolism here that Jesus is showing He is present for all and at the same time, by taking the man aside and opening his ears and allowing him to speak, that he is prompting his apostles and others to listen and hear his word. Certainly they have seen enough to hear and believe in him. Here is a moment he indicates that he is not a mere wonder worker, but a Man with the Word and a message to be heard and believed.

“Ephphatha”, be opened, figuratively Mark is speaking to all.. Listen is what he says, as the voice at his baptism said Listen to him. All through biblical history, all were 23 suncalled to listen, to hear God’s word. Jesus was sent to once and for all bring God’s love for all. But, that doesn’t mean that God
s word stopped, or that he doesn’t speak to us today. Jesus remains present in the world today in many ways and to all believers and even to non-believers. He speaks even in how we live and how we respond to others around us. How we treat and care about those around us, especially those on the fringes of our society, those vulnerable to the powerful, those helpless to defend against injustice. These are the things Jesus prepared us to listen to and respond with the love that God has shared with all of us. As Christ took his long journey to heal the deaf man, a foreigner, a gentile, so we are called to open our own hearing and listen to all and look for God;s love in all who speak to us.

Homily December 15, 2013 Third Sunday of Advent

Posted in christian, Christianity, ecclesiology, inspirational, religion by Fr Joe R on December 10, 2013

Back in June of this year, there was an interesting story and video on the Today show. A three-year old deaf boy named Jason Clamp had a device implanted in his brain stem and was able to hear his Father’s voice for the first time. It was a marvelous thing to see and reminds me of today’s Gospel. Jesus was enabling the blind to see and the deaf to hear, the lame to walk and even the dead to rise. What Jesus did was certainly not explainable by his contemporaries, and the results of seeing and hearing and walking and other medical miracles are rare even today. Certainly even with scientific breakthroughs and the advanced learning of today, we have not matched the doings of Jesus. He cited these signs and wonders to answer the query from John wanting to know if he is the “ONE” who is to come. john in prisonEven in prison, John was indirectly teaching his disciples by sending them to Jesus. Seriously, John had to know that one way or another he was finished. He gave no slack to anyone who came to hear him, and he even condemned Herod the king for marrying his brother’s wife. Even today that would forebode trouble. Yet even as he awaited judgment, John still inquired of Jesus. Perhaps, he was expecting Jesus to be more combative, to be more of an organizer of the people to lead Israel back to the time and glory of King David. Regardless, the disciples went and encountered Jesus and some did eventually follow him. Also we see the uniqueness of John as Jesus points out none greater had ever been born. John stands as the last of the prophets and the messenger presenting the messiah.

So, you might ask how does this relate to Christmas and Advent? As the gospel unfolds, Jesus is in his thirties and we are preparing for a celebration of his birth. I think the point of the liturgy today is patience and preparation. Advent means coming and the time of preparation take patience to prepare and be ready. As the story of John is the preparation for Jesus to appear, so advent is the time for us to prepare and be ready for Jesus to come again as he did on that first Christmas. Our faith and baptism has formed us and made us Christians but certainly we are not yet complete or perfect. foodAdvent is he time to work on this more intently than we usually do. It is a time for us to turn our thoughts and works to the poor and slighted of our own time just as Jesus did. While we can not perform the wonders and miracles that Jesus did, we can start to look after our Sisters and Brothers and see that they can in one way or another be comforted and find rest and peace in their lives. It seems we all become more sensitive to the needy at Christmas but now is a good time to find a more permanent way to help these people. Didn’t we just hear Jesus say that the least of these could be the greater? It is not so important as to what we give, but that we love and act on it by giving out of love.

Be there, be ready to give not only gift and things, but be ready to give time and self and to listen and interact especially with those who are alone and without family. This I think is the call and preparation John the Baptist calls for in Advent.