Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Book of Isaiah 35:4-7a, Psalm 146:7, 8-9, 9-10, James 2:1-5, &
Today we reflect on Jesus, our Savior, who makes no distinction between classes of people. He lifts us up and makes us all rich in faith. We praise the Lord who heals and restores the afflicted.
In our first reading from Isiah, we hear 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 condones oppression. Above all, it is a message of hope from a loving Father who cares for all His children with the words, "Be strong, fear not! Here is your God; he comes with vindication."
In the Letter of Saint James, he frowns at the sin of despising the poor in favor of the rich. His words equally apply to all types of prejudices in our families, churches, and society. We can conclude that to favor some people and disregard others bases on their race, economic, social, or religious background is a terrible evil against God and man.
This evil afflicted the early church, which was why seven deacons were elected to avoid favoritism in the distribution of resources in Acts of the Apostles in Chapter 6. The message of James is still very relevant to all of us because today, in our families, communities, churches, states, and all over the world, people still suffer terrible injustice for this exact reason. They suffer because of where they come from or the color of their skin. Whenever these issues exist, they are signs that we do not understand God, including following His ways. Their roots are in the twin vices of pride and selfishness.
In the Gospel narrative of Saint Mark, Jesus went from town to town preaching and healing. We were not told that He healed only the poor or the rich; instead, His blessings touched and transformed the poor and the rich, the good and the bad, the sinner and the righteous, the beautiful and the ugly. Jesus did not discriminate or show favoritism. Instead, He recognized all people.
Let us emulate Jesus by aiming for good toward all without prejudice or bias. We must make ourselves His instruments and help others rise without regard for their status. We should be motivated by the fact that "God created all of us in His own image and likeness" (Genesis 2:27). Only through this can we truly sing with the psalmist, "Praise the Lord, my soul!"
Question of the Day: Will you pray for all those unjustly persecuted or discriminated against in our world?
Prayer: "Jesus proclaimed the Gospel of the kingdom and cured every disease among the people."