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Homilies/Reflections

ABOUT DOING THINGS WELL. A reflection for the 23rd Sunday of theYear
By Fr. Modestus Mgbaramuko
Mon, 13 Sep 2021

Readings: Is 35:4-7; Jms 2:1-5; Mk 7:31-37

Today, the prophet Isaiah confirms to all troubled hearts of the people that “God is coming.” Our second reading proclaims the risen Jesus as our “glorified Lord” and cautions the Christian against making distinctions or using double standards to treat people.  The crowning lesson for us is to be like Jesus in doing things well. Do something well to fame God’s presence and love in the world.

The coming of “your God to save you” has further significance. It elicits courage, steadfastness, and hope. At the same time, knowing that God knows it all should be enough reason for us to stick to goodness. The linking of God’s coming with “vengeance” and “retribution” also needs to be understood for what these entail: warning that we must not pursue the vengeance of God. We need not seek to implement the retribution that God alone is in the best position to exercise. Indeed, as today’s psalm puts it, God alone is the one who keeps faith forever. God does justice for the oppressed and gives bread to the needy. God thwarts the plans and machinations of the wicked. Seeking to do things well lets God be the final judge of things. Removing ourselves from playing to others makes God clearer to all.

Every societal or structural renewal and moral renovation begins with people. The individual, group of persons or community of genuine peoples are always the instrument for God’s community renewal. The image of water that gushes in the desert, streams that flow in the wastelands, lakes that water the scorched earth, or springs in the parched lands: all of these need the human persons to stand by, report them, and acknowledge them. Therefore, God uses people to rebuild a better life, whether individual or community life. Steadfast people in any given community truly become the agents of God’s bountiful presence. From the point of view of such prophetic realism, Jesus fulfills Isaiah’s prophesy.

Also, in line with the faith built on the person of Jesus, true believers can save themselves from becoming corrupt judges or hypocrites who see less good or value in other people. We can use Jesus’ standards which care for the big or small alike without discrimination. We can tell the truth to ourselves and our friends instead of bending the course of justice to favor our own. Let us be clear on the unbounded admiration of Jesus in today’s Gospel. The confession is that Jesus “has done all things well.” It is a confession with an affection cast in adoration or praise of God (an aspect of latria). God alone is the one who does all things well (Mk7:36). We cannot use double standards and still lay claim to the faith.

Furthermore, we should understand why Jesus proceeds from modesty or how he prefers the people to contain their praise. In other words, Jesus realizes how the people’s praise could wrongly paint him in the eyes of their human authorities – the Scribes, Pharisees, and Roman rulers. The misguided frenzy on miracle stories could derail genuine faith in Jesus. But the more Jesus insisted for the people to contain their praise, the more widely they proclaim and publish his manifestation. Against the things we often claim and publish about other people – their faults and mistakes, what is manifest here is the saving actions of Jesus upon a man abandoned on the margins.

Firming God’s presence in our community and the world today requires affirmative action. It goes much more than faulting others. It demands that we do our assignments well and demonstrate genuine stewardship. Our Christian faith urges us to live above the pettiness of personal prejudices. Rather than playing the underdog to put our perceived enemies down before they hurt us, we can be like Jesus in doing things well. We can take our sisters and brothers aside for a peaceful dialogue. We can put the healing touch on one another’s hurts. We, too, can declare the new “ephphatha” of openness to grace. At the end of rendering an account of my life’s stewardship, can it be said about me: he did this assignment well?

 

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