YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: JESUS THE HEALER
BY: Fr Emmanuel Uchechukwu Muodebelu C.S.Sp
(Isaiah 35:4-7; James 2:1-5; Mark 7:31-37).
I can vividly recall how we learnt how to say the prayer for Nigeria in distress as children. This prayer was said in every block rosary centre and in the churches. People were encouraged to memorise it. Along the line, the Catholic Church introduced prayer against bribery and corruption in Nigeria. We were told to also memorise it.
These prayers are said in every Catholic Church up till date. One thing I am sure is that it is no longer the rate at which they were said in those days, that they are said today. People are gradually becoming tired because many think that things are not changing for good. The society is not getting better rather, the reverse is the case. Corruption has spread like epidemic in the society. Killing of people and destruction of property is no longer a concern for the government. The rich and well-connected are given the high places in the society and in the Church, while the poor has no identity. This system of government is also practically applied to most African countries. As a result of this, most people seem to lose hope in the society and Church, even their faith in God. Others are wondering if God has lost interest in their society and their prayers.
The above situation of most African countries was exactly the situation where the Israelites found themselves at the time of slavery in Babylon. The people seemed to have lost hope before God sent prophet Isaiah to restore their hope. God sent the prophet to encourage the downcast. The times were bad. sin had darkened the world, but God will come to save them. He will avenge the wrongs his faithful ones have suffered. He will reward them for their fidelity in the face of oppression and opposition. He promised that the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like heart, and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy. These bodily cures would be a sign of Spiritual renovation that the messainic age would bring.
Prophet Isaiah also promised that waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water. This represents the healing of the land. The healing our countries and nation at the messainic time. This promises of Isaiah is what really is represented in the Gospel of Mark we read today. The promises is that the religiously blind would see God (in Christ Jesus).
The Gospel of today is the fulfilment of God’s promises in the first reading. Jesus healed the man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech. He touched his finger on both the man’s ears and tongue and said, “Ephphatha” which means “open”. His ears were opened immediately and his tongue was released, and the man spoke plainly. This implies that the man spoke for himself and by himself. His life became a thing of testimony that people were astonished, and said “He has done all things well.” The statement “He has done all things well” was first found in Genesis 1:31 by God Himself immediately after creation. This signifies that Christ was introducing a new creation. The word “Ephphatha” is a word Jesus used to open a new page of life and a new creation in us. Which means this new creation has no deficiency. The promises of Isaiah 35:6 has come to fulfilment.
Secondly, let us bear in mind that Jesus performed this miracle in the region of Decapolis which is the Gentiles premises. By implication the man himself was to bear testimony about Jesus among his Gentile brothers and sisters. This brings us to the letter of st James in the second reading which encourages us to avoid segregation of any standard among us, Christians in our new world. James stated that earthly wealth or position are no criterion for distinction in the Christian community. There should be no distinction between the rich and the poor among Christian brothers and sisters. We are encouraged to hold all our brethren in the same esteem. By segregating, we become judges with evil thoughts. Jesus himself never segregated in this new creation. His healing power was extended even to the Gentiles.
Brethren, are we feeling dejected and abandoned as the Israelites of old? Are we passing through difficulty as individuals or as a nation? Are we losing hope in our faith and our prayer life because of economic and political challenges? Are we blindfolded because of increase in corruption, lack of leaders and moral decadence? Are we so fixated because of these challenges around us? Are we getting blind about the word of God and His promises because of secularism in the our society? Are we getting discouraged, felling dejected and abandoned by God? The promises of Isaiah has been fulfilled in our life today. Thus says the Lord, “I shall restore you to health and heal your wounds, Yahweh declares, you who used to be called outcast, Zion for whom no one cares” (Jeremiah 30:17).
Jesus has created a new life in us and in our society. Jesus has proclaimed Ephphatha in our life. Jesus has created a new world where he made all things to be good. In this new world, the dry land shall produce plenty water, the deaf will still hear and the dumb will proclaim the goodness of God. There will be no segregation of any kind. Let us not be discouraged in any way. The same Jesus of yesterday is still Jesus of today. He is still doing His good work. He will surely heal all of us of any kind of deaf and dumb. Let us follow our master Jesus. Either Jesus or nothing. Jesus is our all. Happy Sunday to you all.
Fr Emmanuel Uchechukwu Muodebelu C.S.Sp