“The eyes of the blind shall be opened, the ears of the deaf unsealed”. Our readings envisage the cleansing of the earth and the coming of justice in Christ. James shows this was needed even in the early flock where distinctions are made between the poor and rich at mass. Christ in the Gospel heals the deaf man. Lets all open our eyes and ears to the Lord’s healing presence.
When I was young, priests were all powerful. Some were wonderful pastors, some lorded it over people contrary to Christ’s command to be servants of the people; a few, we now know, abused the young, the worst crime of all. I love St.James, because he fearlessly attacks abuses in the church. In our second reading he scarifies those who discriminate against the poor at mass. Like Christ, he called religious leaders to account, those who fawn on the big shot in church and humiliate the poor.
Christ’s healing of the poor deaf man in today’s gospel gives the opposite example. He healed the needy that the apostles tried to keep away. Church people must do likewise; rather than judge or treat people accord to worldly values. Christ said sinners and prostitutes would enter his kingdom before the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day. For arrogant pride, thinking oneself better than the poor, is present in all social spheres, even the church. But Christ, though Lord, washed the feet of a common thief, Judas, and chose a humble fisherman Peter as Pope. He himself was born in a stable and lived as a lowly carpenter.
Our challenge is to be like him, making no distinction between man and man, woman and woman, child and child, respecting the god-given dignity of each person whatever their state. “Let not a man guard his dignity”, the philosopher Emerson said, “but let his dignity guard him”. We can do much harm to that human dignity by social prejudice, against the disabled or travellers for example. And all of us unwittingly at times humiliate the disadvantaged and pander to the famous. From the beginning, as James shows, even the church erred in this regard. As one theologian put it the temptation it most often fails is that Christ resisted in the desert. To serve wealth and power before God and others. Christ chose the role of suffering of both.
So must the church. Its being humiliated now because it failed that temptation, enconsed in palaces and large cold institutions. An old man said to me recently, our mistake as to people was to keep our priests too well-fed. Be that as it may, St.James would have judged severely the contemporary sin of our church, turning a blind eye to corruption in the ranks. The devil is prince of that world. Our challenge is to constantly reform ourselves in the image of the carpenter’s son, the homeless nomad who reached out to the deaf and dumb with undiscriminating love. Our task as the baptised is to establish his just reign in the midst of an often unjust world, not to imitate the corruption and social snobbery of that world. For only by imitating Christ’s gentle selfless non-discriminatory service will we transform the earth into the Kingdom of God He came to establish. That’s our task and lets do it humbly for the Lord with generous open hearts. For the world’s hard values of which Satan is lord fade to ashes at last but Christ is lord of compassionate non-discriminatory faith, love, justice and goodness for this world and forever and ever amen. So as God’s people cherishing all His children equally as Christ did and committed to righting injustice and hypocrisy whether inside or outside the church, lets profess our faith….
Prayers of the faithful
And as the people of God lets pray for what we need humbly.
For the church throughout the world, that its leaders may turn from power, palaces and wealth to the humble service of the physically needy, and the spiritually disadvantaged.
For our civil leaders that they may govern with justice, integrity and special care for the most needy in society.
For youth, that seeing beyond false gods of wealth, power and fame, they may practice the faith, goodness, truth and just living that the God’s grace within the church makes possible.
For ourselves in our homes and among our loved ones that our love may flow equally to all, and we may rid our hearts of overweening pride, snobbery, prejudice, anger and hate.
For the sick and those suffering in body, mind or soul in any way that through our care they may know the healing love of Christ..
For the dead that, healed of all the effects of their sins while on earth, they may come with the help of our prayers to final rest, glory and happiness.
We ask these prayers through the all-compassionate Christ who reaches out to us with his saving love forever and ever, amen.
There’s a story told of Cassius Clay the great boxer who became Mohammed Ali when he converted to Islam because he was fed up of the racialism he found among so-called Christians. After winning the olympic gold medal for the USA he describes going home to his native southern USA, and stopping at a fast-food restaurant to buy a burger. “We don’t serve blacks here!”, the waiter said. “I don’t want a black, I only want a burger”, he replied with typical wit. But it hurt him. We don’t know how much we hurt others by intolerance, discrimination and lack of fairness in our treatment of them, especially children. People can have the scars of being unloved or excluded, for life. Lets ask Mother Mary to help us avoid perpetuating this evil..Hail Mary.