Ang TOTOong Balita ngayong ika-23 Linggo Ng Karaniwang panahon. #personalencounter

Sunday Gospel Reflections
Fr. Toto Cerada, SDB
Mary Help of Christians Parish, Calamba City

Ang TOTOong Balita ngayong ika-23 Linggo Ng Karaniwang panahon.

#personalencounter

Mark 7:31-37

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 IS 35:4-7A

Thus says the LORD:
Say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.
Streams will burst forth in the desert,
and rivers in the steppe.
The burning sands will become pools,
and the thirsty ground, springs of water.

Responsorial Psalm PS 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10

R. (1b) Praise the Lord, my soul!
or:
R. Alleluia.

The God of Jacob keeps faith forever,
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets captives free.

R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
or:
R. Alleluia.

The LORD gives sight to the blind;
the LORD raises up those who were bowed down.
The LORD loves the just;
the LORD protects strangers.

R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
or:
R. Alleluia.

The fatherless and the widow the LORD sustains,
but the way of the wicked he thwarts.
The LORD shall reign forever;
your God, O Zion, through all generations.
Alleluia.

R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 JAS 2:1-5

My brothers and sisters, show no partiality
as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.
For if a man with gold rings and fine clothes
comes into your assembly,
and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in,
and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes
and say, “Sit here, please, ”
while you say to the poor one, “Stand there, ” or “Sit at my feet, ”
have you not made distinctions among yourselves
and become judges with evil designs?

Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters.
Did not God choose those who are poor in the world
to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom
that he promised to those who love him?

Alleluia CF. MT 4:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus proclaimed the Gospel of the kingdom
and cured every disease among the people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 7:31-37

Again Jesus left the district of Tyre
and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee,
into the district of the Decapolis.
And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment
and begged him to lay his hand on him.
He took him off by himself away from the crowd.
He put his finger into the man’s ears
and, spitting, touched his tongue;
then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
“Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” —
And immediately the man’s ears were opened,
his speech impediment was removed,
and he spoke plainly.
He ordered them not to tell anyone.
But the more he ordered them not to,
the more they proclaimed it.
They were exceedingly astonished and they said,
“He has done all things well.
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Beyond Healing

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 9, 2018
Mark 7:31-37

“Jesus has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.” (Mk. 7:37)

The deaf man whom Jesus heals is so blessed. He is able to see Jesus, and He finds healing. Inspired by this miracle, we wish that we will also meet Jesus and He will heal our sickness and solve our problems. Thus, we come to various places where we believe Jesus will heal us. We visit pilgrimage sites, we attend prayer and worship meetings, we recite various novenas, and we become actively involved in the Church’s organizations. We believe that our faith in Jesus will save us. However, what if our prayers are not granted? What if our problems are not solved but rather grow in number? What if our sickness is not healed, but gets worse? What if we do not feel that we are saved? One time, I visited Flora [not her real name], a colon-cancer patient, and she asked me, “Brother, I have faith in God, and I faithfully serve the Church, but why am I suffering from this terrible sickness?” Surely, it was a tough question.

In today’s Gospel, Mark, the evangelist, seems to present Jesus as the traditional faith-healer. Just like other healers, Jesus touches the affected body parts of the sick person, namely his ears and tongue. Jesus also spits because, in ancient times, saliva is believed to have therapeutic effects. The act of spitting itself is also considered to drive away evil spirits, and some diseases are thought to come from these evil spirits. Then, Jesus groans to heaven and says a word, “Ephphatha!” This is like other faith-healers who utter certain formula of magic words or incantation as to affect the healing desired. What the people need is to have faith in the faith-healer, and viola, they are healed.

Inspired by this kind of model, we begin to treat Jesus as a faith-healer. We just need to have faith in Him, and the rest will be just perfect. We believe in Him, and we will be saved. That’s all! This image of Jesus is, however, distorted and even dangerous. We reduce Jesus as mere instant problem-solver and an ultimate trouble-shooter. Again, what if we do not get what we expect despite our effort to trust in Him?

Mark is inviting us to read his Gospel more profoundly. There is something more remarkable that we, ordinary readers of the Bible, miss. In original Greek, the term for speech impediment or mute in the Gospel of Mark is “mogilalos.” This very term is also used in the book of Isaiah when the prophet prophesied, “…, and the mute tongue – “mogilalos” – sing for joy (Isa. 35:6 – our first reading)”. But, the prophecy is not only about healing the diseases, but it is about the holistic restoration of both the land and the people of God (see Isa 35:1-10). Mark does not only want to present Jesus as someone more powerful than faith-healers, but he points to us that Isaiah’s prophecy is being fulfilled. In Jesus, God has come to His people and redeemed us. Yet, what does it mean in our daily lives?

This means our faith in Jesus has to be bigger than ourselves, our personal problems and concerns. It is true that we may not have immediate healing to our sickness and solution to our problems, but our lives and our capacity to live and love are enlarged. And, as we become more loving, we begin to change also people around us. As people change, our world will become a better place.

Going back to Flora. After reflecting for a while, I answered Flora, “Well, I do not exactly know why God allows this sickness. But, as you can see, your family is doing their best to help you recover because they love you. Now, you are doing your best to get healed because you love them. See, God has made you bigger than yourself before. I believe faith is working in you.”

Br. Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP

Jesus effectively made his message cut through the feelings of the people that they reacted negatively and angrily to him. How would you react to God’s words every time you read them? Dont just react. Do something. Act! 

People admired Jesus’ authority and power and that helped spread the news about him. But later, these people will desert and persecute him. Jesus does not need our admiration but our deep faith and conversion. Has your faith in him made you a better and more loving person?

Our own efforts alone are not enough 2 get positive results. Allow Jesus 2 intervene in our way of doing things. Lower ur “nets” of pride. Follow his way. It pays to obey.

Fr. Ramon T. Salibay, O.P.

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