23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B (2021): Is 35:4-7; Ps 146; Mk 7:31-37
Sunday, September 5, 2021
Homily Notes for the 23rd Sunday of OT, Year B (2021): Is 35:4-7; Ps 146; Mk 7:31-37
· Countless people are grateful to the Lord for the gift of sight and of being able to hear. Whether or not my hearing will remain after years of wearing headphones and listening to loud music is to be determined but I did have one short experience of vision loss. It came after I had laser eye surgery to correct my vision.
· For three days I was unable to see and had to rely on my family for help. It took about 2 weeks for my vision to be fully restored, with seeing double being a common thing during that time, which even lead to an interesting adventure will scrambling up a mountain with my cousin and encountering a mother bear with two cubs, that I claimed was 2 momma bears and 4 cubs but my cousin assured me my double vision was making the near encounter worse than it could have been…
· This short experience of losing my vision was a reminder to me of how grateful we need to be for the gift of sight and ability to hear clearly and to grow in empathy for those who experience the loss of the senses either from birth or progressively over a period of time. It is so easy to take for granted that our senses will always be with us and it is a tremendous blessing that as our society progresses in medical technologies that more and more the possibility of restoring sight to the blind and sound to the deaf is a more common reality.
· Among our Lord’s miraculous healings those that restored the senses were among the most inspiring and important to the people of his time. In part, it was because these healing were proof that he was indeed the Messiah foretold by Isaiah and the Psalms, since the blind being able to see and the deaf able to hear was an affirmation that the Anointed One was given power from on High to correct what were not just seen as physical ailments but also spiritual ones.
· The People of God saw the loss of the senses, especially at birth, as a sign that the power of sin had afflicted that person, be it the sins of previous generations being afflicted on those born deaf, dumb and blind or that personal sin lead to the loss of the senses. Our Lord sought to correct that misunderstanding by teaching that physical ailments did not come because of personal sin or sins of past generations but were permitted by God to allow the glory of Christ to one day be revealed as he brought healing to those who were thought to be beyond hope of restoration.
· But these healings were not meant to be only understood in the physical sense but could also be a sign of the Lord’s desire and willingness to bring spiritual healing in those who are spiritually blind and deaf to the Word of God, healings that are often of greater distress than their physical counterparts and produce more profound relief and restoration that transformed many aspects of one’s life.
· The challenge is that spiritual blindness and deafness is not always readily detectable to ourselves or by others but when they are noticed, it is hopeful someone in a spirit of humility will seek out the spiritual remedies to correct the affliction.
· Might I suggest that a spiritual affliction many of us face that cause both spiritual blindness and deafness is that we are bombarded with massive amounts of information via the media that causes us to too quickly formulate our beliefs and opinions on pressing matters. The problem is we can rapidly find articles, reports, scholarly writings from qualified individuals who will support our opinions on a given topic and compel us to immediately reject the opposing view that has its own copious amounts of articles, reports and scholarly writings to support them. Where in lies the truth of the matter when the two opposing views have so much information, true or otherwise, to support their claim?
· This assault of massive amounts of information can quickly cause a spiritual blindness to form that refuses to see the wisdom in viewpoints other than our own and a spiritual deafness that willfully or unknowingly causes us to stop listening to sound reason and arguments that are being presented.
· If we have some sense that this spiritual ailment may be impacting our lives, might I suggest the following practice that I found helpful when I was undertaking studies in Church History, a topic that can quickly fall into ideological camps that distort what actually happened in the past.
· Step one is to read articles that you know will agree with your worldview, preferences and ideological/political affiliation. Step two is read articles that disagree with your worldview, preference and ideological/political affiliation. Step three is to seek out what the Church teaches on a given topic from credible sources like the Catechism, and other credible and un-biased Catholic news outlets and sources of sound teaching. Having humbly and objectively read both sides of the matter and discovered what our Church has to say about it, you can begin to see the strengths and deficiencies on both sides and formulate an opinion knowing you have given everything a fair reading.
· Too often we can get intellectual lazy in only supporting opinions and views that align with our worldview, while intellectual prowess is found in the one who is not afraid to be challenged in what they support to be true and humble enough to admit where they have erred, need to acquire a deeper understanding on a given topic and thus likely result in a strengthening of our position on a particular topic and its connection to the teachings of Our Church.
· This is just example of how spiritual ailments can obstruct our capacity to see and hear clearly the word of the Lord in our lives. Jesus wishes to say “Be Open” to each of us on a daily basis, to drive away any form of spiritual darkness that quite often seeks to make us blind and deaf to the manifold ways God is wanting to bring ongoing healing and wisdom into our lives.