Homily 23rd Sunday of Year B: Michael U. Udoekpo
The God who cares for us
Fear, illnesses and poverty are nothing new. They have always been part and parcel of human existence of different religion and cultural background. The difference lies in how we respond to them. When we are frightened, when we are sick when we lose our loved ones do we abandon God? Do we feel that God does no longer care for us? The answer is no. God still cares for us This is our own Christian faith. In our moments of uncertainties, poverty, brokenness, even when we are sick and weak God still cares for us! He constantly offers us hope. He is constantly in solidarity with us! And he wants us to be in solidarity with our neighbors!
When the friends, brothers and sisters of Isaiah experienced these things, for every good reason: wars and threats of foreign powers, Isaiah stepped up as God’s messenger. He says, to his community ‘thus says the Lord say to those whose heart is frightened, be strong, fear not…. He comes to save, the blind, the deaf, the lame, the mute, those who are thirsty and the poor.”
St. James in the Second Reading is on this same message of God’s everlasting solidarity with us in spite of whom we are. James says, “Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters, did God not choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those love him?”
This is the promised that Christ preached and lived through out his ministry. Recall when he began in Luke 4, “the spirit of the Lord is upon me…..” Christ has been faithful to his mission of love, his mission healing and care-giving. Christ is a care giver. In the district of Decapolis in the Gospel, he healed the deaf man. He removed his speech impediments in a divine dramatic fashion by spitting on his finger, and commanding “be opened” as he raise his eyes to the Father in prayers.
None of us is perfect! Our society is not perfect! We have our own individual and community impediments- physical and spiritually. We have our own “deafness’ and “blindness.” Think of the gap between the richer and poorer nations today. I mean man-made gap not God made- the monopoly of trade and business in the international markets. Think of the effects and the aftermath of wars created and crafted by human beings. We know those who suffer most: in these circumstances: the children, women, the less privilege, those who cannot run, those who cannot flee, those without foreign passports and immediate connections! These and many others, particularly the instinct to dominate, not share with others (selfishness) could be seen as examples of societal impediments.
Spiritually, each of us is constantly struggling to keep the faith in our world today rapidly changing. For some it is so easy to loose that faith, to forget our prayer, to be distracted, to be led astray, to forget the goodness of the Lord or to be uncharitable to one another. We have our own impediments!
In each of these cases the healing and caring hands of God are constantly opened to embrace and heal us- our fear, our illnesses and our brokenness! He is a God who cares! A God who loves! And he wants us to do the same: to love, and care for one another!