09.09.18 – 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

Welcome Back to Banquet of the Word!

Join us every week for background on this Sunday readings.
Our mission is simple:
We want to help everyone in “pew-land” get more out of mass.

Fun Fact #1:
The book of Isaiah is often called “the Fifth Gospel.” It is so rich and prophesies about every aspect of Christ’s life – his birth, his life, his passion, his death, and his resurrection. It is truly remarkable and comprehensive. It’s also long – the longest book in the bible. Isaiah can be divided into 2 main parts.

  1. Chapters 1-39: The book of judgment. (Summary: God’s people aren’t listening. They’re worshipping idols.) We’re in this part today – the early verses of chapter 35.
  2. Chapters 40-66: The book of consolation. (Summary: God is ever-loving. He will never tire from trying to save his people. He will save those who turn back.)

Fun Fact #2
– Did you know that the audience for St. Paul’s letters are non-Jews, whereas the audience for St. James (our 2nd reading today) are Jews? They are from Jewish descent but are now followers of Christ.

IS 35:4-7A

(The 1st Reading is Old Testament. It always links to the Gospel.)

Today we hear Isaiah prophesy about what will happen when Israel is delivered – when they repent. So it’s a very upbeat reading. In the previous chapter though? It’s judgment. Things like “The Lord is angry with all nations…the hosts of heaven shall rot…When my sword has drunk its fill in the heavens, it shall come down upon Edom for judgment.” But see the good news that awaits those who repent:

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;
(today’s Gospel)
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.

Remember that line – “Be strong, fear not! He comes to save you…”

Psalm 146: Praise the Lord, my Soul!”
(The Psalm is a “response” to what we heard in the 1st Reading)

The psalmist will likely sing this familiar tune, lifting his or her voice to the heavens and thus asking us to lift our hearts to God in all we do.

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.

JAS 2:1-5

(The 2nd reading is usually from Paul’s letters. Speaks to how the early church was built after Christ’s death and resurrection).

The letter of St. James is largely concerned with ethical conduct – that is, how should we act and behave on a daily basis? From usccb.org, “James represents a type of early Christianity that emphasized sound teaching and responsible moral behavior. Ethical norms are derived not primarily from christology, as in Paul, but from a concept of salvation that involves conversion, baptism, forgiveness of sin, and expectation of judgment.”

Today we are asked to avoid judgment of others and partial treatment.  That is, everyone you meet is a child of God. When it is hard to see God in someone else, ask yourself: “What does God see and love in this person? How can I focus on these qualities? Lord, help me to see this person as you do.” A priest told me that once and I never forgot it, I hope it has helped me be a bit more charitable when I see people who are not familiar to me or who don’t live similar lifestyles, such as homeless beggars on street corners. In short, God doesn’t have favorites.

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?

MK 7:31-37

(The Gospel is the highest point of the Liturgy of the Word. That’s why we stand. We are about to hear from and be instructed by Christ Himself.)

Image result for picture of jesus healing the deaf man

Today Jesus fulfills Isaiah 35, our first reading. After last’ weeks’ reading, Jesus goes on to heal 2 non-Jews, one of whom is deaf and mute – today’s Gospel. This is not a public miracle. Jesus pulls this man aside to heal him. Why? Scholars suggest that here we see how Jesus heals us each according to our ailments and our needs. Why? We don’t really know. Nor does it matter.

What we can consider is that Jesus doesn’t do miracles for miracles’ sake. He heals persons – hearts, minds and bodies. He heals so that we might believe still deeper, so that we might love more richly, so that we might spread news of his hand in our lives and lead others to belief, too.

How can Jesus heal you? Who may be in need of hearing a story of how God has worked in your life? This week we give thanks for the ongoing miracles of Jesus, and ask Him to reveal them to us more fully. May God bless your week!

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.”

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Author: Cindy Skalicky

Background: While enrolled in coursework at the Denver Catholic Biblical School (CBS), I developed a passion for scripture. Prior to CBS, I knew so little about the bible. I was in a complete "fog", unable to see what I heard at mass or make any connections (even though I have been a lector for 20 years). The climax of every Mass is the banquet of the Eucharist. But before that, we attend the banquet of the Word - a "4-course meal" that includes the 1st Reading, Responsorial Psalm, 2nd Reading, and Gospel. At this "Banquet of the Word", we encounter Christ through His Word before we meet Him at the Eucharistic table. Increasing my knowledge of scripture has brought me out of the fog and into the light. I invite you to visit weekly. If you have limited scriptural knowledge, Be Not Afraid. Scripture is God's voice; in It, He speaks to you personally. Believe me, I know from experience how intimidating the Bible can be - in its length, the numerous styles in which it's written, and the messages therein. This is why I find it works well to explore scripture through the Sunday readings, which cover Old Testament, Wisdom Literature, the Pastoral Letters, and the Gospels. Join me on this journey, one week at a time.

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