YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: THE PROMISED MIRACLE OF GRACE
BY: REV FR ANSELM CHIGOZIE AMADI
IS 35:4-7, JAS 2:1-5, M 7:31-37
Left in the self imposed exile, humanity wonders in a wild world of affliction and pain, bedeviled by the physical impediments which is only a reflection of his distorted spiritual nature. The Lord’s response to the ugly situation is that of compassion, expressed in the promises of imminent messianic era. In the days of the Lord, the afflicted soul will rejoice, the poor, as reflected by St. James, will be heirs of the Kingdom and our exile will cease. The process involved in the healing of the mute-deaf man offers us a goldmine of theological lessons.
AWAY FROM THE CROWD
The scene of this encounter was the district of the decapolis, meaning ten cities. It was a gentile territory. The composition of the crowd was mainly of gentiles and the social climate smarks of secularism. The ‘crowd’ undertood in this light carries a connotation of worldliness as opposed to the spiritual. Jesus, by withdrawing this soul from the crowd tends to say to it, in the words of St. James, “don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity with God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God (Jm4:4)”.
The world, which stands for the prevailing secular culture constitutes, along with the flesh and Satan, the enemy of our spiritual life. Hence the Bible warns, “love not the world 1Jn2:15”. Undue association with the world separates us from God while Union with God abhors attachment with the world.
Jesus calls the “turn apart” to be “set apart” for God, to inherit the promised blessing. This is evident in the case of Abram, who was called away from his family, clan and people to win a relationship with God. Zacchaeus (Lk. 19), had to escape from the crowd that obscured his vision of Christ to win friendship with Jesus. So we are called to detach ourselves from worldly relationships, soul ties, affection and associations to secure friendship with Jesus.
OFF BY HIMSELF
Jesus took this man off by himself to restore the lost Union with God. This Union is the foundation of man’s salvation. It was the original state of the soul before the fall. When man lost it in consequence to the fall, his condition changed to the negative. Peace is restored to the soul that finds union with God. As Mary, the sister of Lazarus, sat at the master’s feet so recollected in God and enjoys the repose of the spirit, so is every soul that finds Union with God. Freed from the cares and worries of life, it sings with Solomon “I found him whom my heart loves. I held him and I will not let him go” song of songs 3:4.
THE LORD’S HEAVENWARD LOOK
“He put his finger into the man’s ears and spitting, touched his tongue, then looked up to heaven…. ” Jesus’ heavenward gaze points to the transcendental purpose and orientation of every miracle of his. He doesn’t perform a miracle for mere show of power, less he would have accepted to turn stones into bread. Physical healing will come to end, but the spirit purpose and effects remains forever.
The impediments on the sensory faculties distort the transcendental purpose of these faculties. For instance, as St. Paul says, “faith comes from hearing , hearing the word of God (Rom 10:17)”. In this, we see the heavenward orientation of the sense of hearing. The power of speech, also serves same spiritual purpose in confession of faith in Jesus : “whoever confesses me before men, I will confess before my father in heaven (Matt 10:32)”. As Jesus looks up to heaven, he calls us to be heavenward. To search for miracle in oblivion of this spiritual end is to be earth bound. The miracles of Jesus aim at freeing man from impediments to knowing and serving heaven’s course.
The good news in this passage does not consist in the physical miracle. The miracle does not consist in the healing but in the grace, namely, the lost is found . It is a grace of restoration. The power of speech that empowers us to proclaim in praises, the glory of God is restored. The dumb now sings of this amazing grace. Those who cannot hear the Word of God are the real deal, while they that do not praise God suffer the worst speech impediment.