Homily for the 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

Our God Does All Things Well

Readings: 1st: Is 35:4-7; Ps: 145; 2nd: Jam 2:1-5; Gos: Mk 7:31-37

This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. He was the chancellor of the Diocese of Fajardo Humacao, Puerto Rico. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

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Today, the twenty-third Sunday of ordinary time, we celebrate Christ, our Saviour, who makes no distinction between people’s classes. He lifts us and makes us all rich in faith. We praise the Lord, who heals and restores the afflicted.

Our first reading is a message of hope for the oppressed people of God and for all of us who need His saving help. It is a message of restoration from the Lord, who neither shows favoritism nor likes oppression. Above all, it is a message of hope from a loving Father who cares for all his children. He says to us today: “Courage, do not be afraid! Look, your God is coming.” 

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In our second reading today, James frowns at the sin of despising the poor in favor of the rich. His words equally apply to all types of prejudices and discriminations in our families, churches, and society. So, to favor some people and disregard others based on their race, economic, social, or religious background is a terrible evil against God and man.

This evil afflicted the early church. This was why seven deacons were elected to avoid favoritism in the distribution of resources in Acts 6. The message of James is still very relevant to all of us today. This is because today, in our families, communities, churches, states, and indeed worldwide, people still suffer terrible injustice because of who they are. They Still suffer because of where they come from and the color of their skin.

Many innocent, poor, and good people are not valued because of their economic, social, political, religious, and cultural status. It is sad to know that favoritism, discrimination, and racism still plagues our society in this century. This should not be so for us as Christians. Wherever they exist, they are signs that we do not yet know or understand God and his ways. Their roots are in these twin vices called: pride and selfishness.

Pride makes one think he is better than the other or superior, while others are inferior. So, they must be treated differently. Selfishness makes one think only about one’s wellbeing and so, ignoring others’ sufferings and needs. These twin vices are the forces behind the theory of “Might is right,” a negative expression of power.

In today’s gospel, “Jesus went from one town to the other doing good.” However, the gospel did not tell us that he healed only the poor or the rich. Rather, His blessings touched and transformed the poor, rich, sinner, righteous, beautiful, and ugly. He did not discriminate or show favoritism. Instead, he identified with all classes of people.

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Christ visited and ate with Zacchaeus, the tax collector (Lk 19 1-10). He called Levi the tax collector and transformed him into saint Matthew, the great evangelist (Mt 9: 9-13).  He also healed the daughter of a gentile, Jairus, the wealthy Roman centurion (Mk 5: 21-43). Against Jewish tradition, He spoke with a Samaritan woman and transformed her life by bringing her to faith (Lk 4:1 42). Also, He healed many poor, blind, lame, deaf, and dumb people. Indeed, “He did all things well” without favoritism.

Finally, let us emulate Jesus by aiming at being good to all without discrimination favoritism. We must make ourselves an instrument to help others rise without minding their status. We should be motivated by the fact that “God created all of us in his image and likeness” (Gen 2, 27). Only through this can we truly sing with the psalmist: “My soul gives praise to the Lord.”

Peace be with you!

Maranatha!

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