YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: GOD NEVER ABANDONS US
BY: Fr. Abbot Philip Lawrence
My sisters and brothers in the Lord,
The work of God in our lives is so incredible! The gifts of the Lord Jesus to those who follow Him are gifts of the Kingdom of God. Just as God loves us in Christ Jesus and brings healing and wholeness, so we also much touch the lives of one another in the same way. May our burning sands become pools, and may our thirsty ground become springs of water.
The first reading today is from the Prophet Isaiah. Always his words are strong and very often they touch our feelings and our spiritual sensibilities. He tells us today: Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not!
We can know that we don’t have to be frightened. We can be upset, we can be lazy, we can be against God. Whatever! God is still going to seek us out in some way and we will have a choice to believe in Him. We don’t even know how God will come into our lives. For those of us who already believe, there are still surprises ahead of us. God never abandons us. God never gets us to one point in live and says: that is enough. No! God wants us fully alive and fully in love with Him. Isaiah tells us: with divine recompense he comes to save you. Divine recompense! Recompense is compensation or reward given for loss or harm suffered or effort made.
Divine recompense is surely mercy upon mercy upon mercy—and yet always trying to entice from us a divine response to His divine love.
The Gospel of Mark today is about the healing of the deaf man who had a speech impediment. Again this account is put here to show us that God wants us whole and alive. Perhaps we will never be entirely whole in this life or entirely alive, but God is always there with us, enticing us, drawing us and seeking to gain our attention and our response. When we do feel small touches of healing and wholeness and life, then at times we are like this deaf man and cannot restrain ourselves from telling others. Jesus still will not reject us.
The Letter of James draws these themes together today by asking us not to make distinctions among people. Everyone is worthy of our love because all have the love of God. Social standing, beliefs, relationships, etc., should not stand in the way of our love. That never means abandoning the message of Jesus about how to live. Rather it implies that because we know the teachings of Jesus and of His Church, we are able to love even better and to show others the path of life.
We know that if we get preachy, others will lose interest in the path of life. We know that if we do not live joyful and humanly rewarding lives, others will not want such a path. Our best preaching is simply living the joy of the presence of Lord in every aspect of our lives and in the way we love others. Let us draw others to the Lord so that they too will know the Divine recompense.
Fr. Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB Christ in the Desert Monastery, Abiquiu,