23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Note: Homilies & Angelus / Regina Caeli of Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I had been compiled for you after the Mass Readings below. Happy Reading!
Readings at Mass
Liturgical Colour: Green.
First Reading: Isaiah 35:4-7
The blind shall see, the deaf hear, the dumb sing for joy
Say to all faint hearts, ‘Courage! Do not be afraid.
Look, your God is coming, vengeance is coming,
the retribution of God; he is coming to save you.’
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, the ears of the deaf unsealed,
then the lame shall leap like a deer and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy;
for water gushes in the desert, streams in the wasteland,
the scorched earth becomes a lake, the parched land springs of water.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 145(146):7-10
My soul, give praise to the Lord.
It is the Lord who keeps faith for ever, who is just to those who are oppressed.
It is he who gives bread to the hungry, the Lord, who sets prisoners free.
It is the Lord who gives sight to the blind, who raises up those who are bowed down.
It is the Lord who loves the just, the Lord, who protects the stranger.
The Lord upholds the widow and orphan but thwarts the path of the wicked.
The Lord will reign for ever, Zion’s God, from age to age.
Second Reading: James 2:1-5
God chose the poor according to the world to be rich in faith
My brothers, do not try to combine faith in Jesus Christ, our glorified Lord, with the making of distinctions between classes of people. Now suppose a man comes into your synagogue, beautifully dressed and with a gold ring on, and at the same time a poor man comes in, in shabby clothes, and you take notice of the well-dressed man, and say, ‘Come this way to the best seats’; then you tell the poor man, ‘Stand over there’ or ‘You can sit on the floor by my foot-rest.’ Can’t you see that you have used two different standards in your mind, and turned yourselves into judges, and corrupt judges at that?
Listen, my dear brothers: it was those who are poor according to the world that God chose, to be rich in faith and to be the heirs to the kingdom which he promised to those who love him.
1 Samuel 3:9, John 6:68
Speak, Lord, your servant is listening:
you have the message of eternal life.
cf. Matthew 4:23
Jesus proclaimed the Good News of the kingdom
and cured all kinds of sickness among the people.
Gospel: Mark 7:31-37
'He makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak'
Returning from the district of Tyre, Jesus went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, right through the Decapolis region. And they brought him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they asked him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, put his fingers into the man’s ears and touched his tongue with spittle. Then looking up to heaven he sighed; and he said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And his ears were opened, and the ligament of his tongue was loosened and he spoke clearly. And Jesus ordered them to tell no one about it, but the more he insisted, the more widely they published it. Their admiration was unbounded. ‘He has done all things well,’ they said ‘he makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.’
Acknowledgment: We thank the Publisher for allowing us to publish the Mass Readings to be used as reference for Homilies & Angelus / Regina Caeli of Pope Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI & Pope Francis I as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us around the World.
Homilies, Angelus / Regina Caeli
The theme is one of the key points in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. In the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes we read: "The wellbeing of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life" (n. 47). This is the conviction of the Church and of those peoples who recognize the family based on marriage as the inalienable patrimony of humanity. Indeed, the spiritual and cultural identity of families constitutes the basis of the identity of the nation to which they belong.
It is precisely this fundamental truth that the meeting's theme is meant to emphasize: "The family: gift and commitment, hope of humanity". It highlights the central role of the family as the primordial cell of society and the sanctuary of life. To renew itself and face the demands of the time, the family asks to be recognized by society and to have its rights respected and supported.
Another statement of the Council comes to mind: "The future of humanity is in the hands of those who are capable of providing the generations to come with reasons for life and hope" (Gaudium et spes, n. 31). There are many in the world, both men and women, who communicate these reasons by their witness. I appeal to political leaders and lawmakers to ensure that institutions give the utmost support to this fundamental role of the family. I also hope that the media of social communications will make a positive effort, with respect and a sense of responsibility, to promote reflection and dialogue on the family and its problems.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Angelus, 14 September 1997)
"Ephphatha, be opened!" (Mark 7:34). The words spoken by Jesus at the healing of the deaf mute ring out once more for us today; they are stimulating words of great symbolic intensity which call us to open ourselves to listening and to bearing witness.
Does not the deaf mute mentioned in the Gospel bring to mind the situation of those who are unable to establish a communication which gives true meaning to life? In a certain way, he reminds us of those who shut themselves up in a presumed autonomy, which leaves them isolated from God and often from their neighbour as well. Jesus turns to this man to restore to him the capacity to open himself to the One who is Other and to others, in an attitude of trust and freely-given love. He offers him the extraordinary opportunity to meet God who is love and who allows himself to be known by those who love. He offers him salvation.
Yes, Christ opens man to a knowledge of both God and himself. He who is truth (cf. John 14:6) opens man to the truth, touching him from within and thus healing "from within" every human faculty.
For you, dear Brothers and Sisters engaged in research and study, these words are an appeal to open your spirit, to the truth which sets free! At the same time, Christ's words summon you to become this "Ephphatha" for countless hosts of young people, to become this word which opens the spirit to every aspect of truth in the different fields of learning. Seen in this light, your daily commitment becomes a following of Christ on the path of service to your brothers and sisters in the truth of love.
Christ is the one who "has done all things well" (Mark 7:37). He is the model to whom you must look unceasingly so that your academic activity becomes an effective service of the human longing for an ever fuller knowledge of truth.
"Say to those who are of a fearful heart: `Be strong, fear not! Behold your God ... He will come and save you"' (Isaiah 35:4).
In these words of Isaiah your mission too, dear University men and women, is well delineated. Every day you are committed to proclaiming, defending and spreading the truth. Often this involves truths concerning the most diverse aspects of the cosmos and of history. The subject material will not always touch directly on the problem of the ultimate meaning of life and the relationship with God, as in the areas of philosophy and theology. However, this problem abides as the larger context of every thought. Even in research on areas of life which seem quite far from faith there is a hidden desire for truth and meaning which goes beyond the particular and the contingent.
When the human person is not spiritually "deaf and dumb" every area of thought, science and experience also brings a reflection of the Creator and gives rise to a desire for him, a desire often hidden and perhaps also repressed but which cannot be suppressed. This was well understood by Saint Augustine who exclaimed: "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you" (Confessions, I, 1 ).
As scholars and teachers who have opened your hearts to Christ, your vocation is that of living and bearing witness in an effective way to this relationship between the individual branches of knowledge and that supreme "knowledge" which concerns God, and which in a sense coincides with him, with his Word made flesh and with the Spirit of truth given by him. Through your contribution, the University becomes the place of the "Ephphatha" where Christ - at work in you - continues to carry out the miracle of opening ears and lips, bringing about a new capacity for listening and a true communication.
Freedom of research has nothing to fear from this encounter with Christ. Nor does this encounter compromise dialogue and respect for individuals, since Christian truth by its nature is to be proposed, never imposed, and has as its solid point of reference a deep respect for the "sanctuary of conscience" (Redemptoris Missio, 39; cf. Redemptor Hominis, 12; Vatican II, Dignitatis Humanae, 3).
Pope Saint John Paul II (Homily, 10 September 2000)
Today's solemn celebration, prepared for by numerous international conventions and culminating in the days at Rome, brings the Jubilee of University Teachers to a close. I renew my thanks to all the organizers and participants. I hope that each will draw from it the best fruits for himself and for the university community to which he belongs.
I wish to greet the English-speaking participants in this Jubilee celebration for university teachers and to express my heartfelt thanks for their witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the academic world. I pray that each of you, together with the institutions from which you come and the students whom you guide along the paths of higher learning, will be ever filled with the light and strength of the Holy Spirit, so that the new generations will always have the flame of faith, hope and love burning brightly within them!
Pope Saint John Paul II (Angelus, 10 September 2000)
O Crux, ave spes unica! Hail, O Cross, our only hope!
During the celebration of this Sunday Liturgy, Dear Brothers and Sisters, we are invited to look upon the Cross. It is the “privileged place” where the love of God is revealed and shown to us. Bishop Vasil’ Hopko and Sister Zdenka Schelingová, whom I have had the joy of enrolling today among the Blessed, looked upon the Cross with invincible faith.
On the Cross human misery and divine mercy meet. The adoration of this unlimited mercy is for man the only way to open himself to the mystery which the Cross reveals.
The Cross is planted in the earth and would seem to extend its roots in human malice, but it reaches up, pointing as it were to the heavens, pointing to the goodness of God. By means of the Cross of Christ, the Evil One has been defeated, death is overcome, life is given to us, hope is restored, light is imparted. O Crux, ave spes unica!
“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15), says Jesus. What do we see then when we bring our eyes to bear on the cross where Jesus was nailed (cf. John 19:37)? We contemplate the sign of God’s infinite love for humanity.
O Crux, ave spes unica! Saint Paul speaks of the same theme in the letter to the Ephesians which we have just heard. Not only did Christ Jesus become man, in everything similar to human beings, but he took on the condition of a servant and humbled himself even more by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (cf. Philippians 2:6-8).
Yes, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16). We admire – overwhelmed and gratified – the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge (cf. Ephesians 3:18-19)! O Crux, ave spes unica!
In the Garden of Eden, at the foot of the tree, there was a woman, Eve (cf. Genesis 3). Seduced by the Evil One, she takes possession of what she thinks is divine life. Instead it is a seed of death which enters into her (cf. James 1:15; Rom 6:23).
On Calvary, at the foot of the tree of the cross, there was another woman, Mary (cf. John 19:25-27). Accepting God’s plan, she shares intimately in the Son’s gift of self to the Father for the life of the world and, receiving from Jesus the entrustment of John the Apostle, she becomes the Mother of all mankind.
It is the Virgin most Sorrowful, whom we will remember tomorrow in the liturgy and whom you, with tender devotion, venerate as your Patroness. To her I entrust the present and the future of the Church and Nation of Slovakia, so that they will grow at the foot of the Cross of Christ, and will always know how to seek out and accept its message of love and salvation.
Through the mystery of your Cross and your resurrection, save us O Lord! Amen.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Homily, 14 September 2003)
At the conclusion of the celebration we wish once again to place ourselves spiritually at the foot of the Cross of Christ and receive from him the sublime gift of his Mother, who from that moment also became the Mother of the Church.
Like the Apostle John, we too welcome her into our home (cf. John 19:27), to learn from her the interior disposition of listening and that attitude of humble generosity in service, which characterise her as the first disciple of the Lord.
Together with the new Blesseds, let us ask Mary to intercede for us so as to obtain for the Christian community that lives in Slovakia the grace of being a Church rich in holiness, courageous in doing good and strong in witness.
Pope Saint John Paul II (Angelus, 14 September 2003)
We have just listened to the three biblical readings which the Church's liturgy has chosen for this Sunday. All three develop a double theme which is ultimately one, bringing out - as circumstances dictate - one or another of its aspects. All three readings speak of God as the center of all reality and the center of our personal life. "Here is your God!", exclaims the prophet Isaiah in the first reading (35:4). In their own way, the Letter of James and the Gospel passage say the very same thing. They want to lead us to God, to set us on the right road in life. But to speak of "God" is also to speak of society: of our shared responsibility for the triumph of justice and love in the world. This is powerfully expressed in the second reading, in which James, a close relative of Jesus, speaks to us. He is addressing a community beginning to be marked by pride, since it included affluent and distinguished persons, and consequently the risk of indifference to the rights of the poor. James's words give us a glimpse of Jesus, of that God who became man. Though he was of Davidic, and thus royal, stock, he became a simple man in the midst of simple men and women. He did not sit on a throne, but died in the ultimate poverty of the Cross. Love of neighbour, which is primarily a commitment to justice, is the touchstone for faith and love of God. James calls it "the royal law" (cf. 2:8), echoing the words which Jesus used so often: the reign of God, God's kingship. This does not refer to just any kingdom, coming at any time; it means that God must even now become the force that shapes our lives and actions. This is what we ask for when we pray: "Thy Kingdom come". We are not asking for something off in the distance, something that, deep down, we may not even want to experience. Rather, we pray that God's will may here and now determine our own will, and that in this way God can reign in the world. We pray that justice and love may become the decisive forces affecting our world. A prayer like this is naturally addressed first to God, but it also proves unsettling for us. Really, is this what we want? Is this the direction in which we want our lives to move? For James, "the royal law", the law of God's kingship, is also "the law of freedom": if we follow God in all that we think and do, then we draw closer together, we gain freedom and thus true fraternity is born. When Isaiah, in the first reading, talks about God, saying “Behold your God!”, he goes on to talk about salvation for the suffering, and when James speaks of the social order as a necessary expression of our faith, he logically goes on to speak of God, whose children we are.
The Gospel tells us that Jesus put his fingers in the ears of the deaf-mute, touched the sick man's tongue with spittle and said "Ephphatha" - "Be opened". The Evangelist has preserved for us the original Aramaic word which Jesus spoke, and thus he brings us back to that very moment. What happened then was unique, but it does not belong to a distant past: Jesus continues to do the same thing anew, even today. At our Baptism he touched each of us and said "Ephphatha" - "Be opened" -, thus enabling us to hear God's voice and to be able to talk to him. There is nothing magical about what takes place in the Sacrament of Baptism. Baptism opens up a path before us. It makes us part of the community of those who are able to hear and speak; it brings us into fellowship with Jesus himself, who alone has seen God and is thus able to speak of him (cf. John 1:18): through faith, Jesus wants to share with us his seeing God, his hearing the Father and his converse with him. The path upon which we set out at Baptism is meant to be a process of increasing development, by which we grow in the life of communion with God, and acquire a different way of looking at man and creation.
Pope Benedict XVI (Homily, 10 September 2006)
Before concluding our Eucharistic celebration with the solemn blessing, let us recollect ourselves by praying the Angelus. In reflecting on the readings of the Mass, we have realized how necessary it is – both for the lives of individuals and for the serene and peaceful coexistence of all people – to see God as the centre of all there is and the centre of our personal lives. The supreme example of this attitude is Mary, Mother of the Lord. Throughout her earthly life, she was the Woman who listened, the Virgin whose heart was open towards God and towards others. The faithful have understood this since the earliest centuries of Christianity, and therefore in all their needs and trials they have confidently turned to her, imploring her help and her intercession with God.
And how can we not think in a special way of the shrine of Altötting, where I shall go tomorrow on pilgrimage? There I will have the joy of solemnly inaugurating the new Adoration Chapel which, precisely in that place, is an eloquent sign of Mary’s role: she is and remains the handmaid of the Lord who does not put herself at the centre, but wants to lead us towards God, to teach us a way of life in which God is acknowledge as the centre of all there is and the centre of our personal lives. To her let us now address our Angelus prayer.
Pope Benedict XVI (Angelus, 10 September 2006)
Dear brothers and sisters, every liturgical assembly is a space for the presence of God. Gathered for the Blessed Eucharist, disciples of the Lord proclaim that he is risen, that he is alive and is the Giver of life; and let us witness that his presence is grace, it is fulfilment, it is joy. Let us open our hearts to his word and welcome the gift of his presence! In this Sunday's First Reading, the Prophet Isaiah (35: 4-7) encourages those "who are of a fearful heart" and proclaims this marvellous newness which experience has confirmed: when the Lord is present the eyes of the blind are reopened, the ears of the deaf unstopped and the lame man leaps like a hart. All things are reborn and all things are revived, for beneficial waters irrigate the desert. The "desert", in Isaiah's symbolic language, can call to mind the tragic events, difficult situations and loneliness that often mark life; the deepest desert is the human heart when it loses the capacity for listening, speaking and communicating with God and with others. Eyes then become blind because they are incapable of seeing reality; ears are closed so as not to hear the cry of those who implore help; hearts are hardened in indifference and selfishness. But now, the Prophet proclaims, all is destined to change; the "dry land" of a closed heart will be watered by a new, divine sap. And when the Lord comes, to those who are fearful of heart in every epoch he says authoritatively: "Be strong, fear not!" (v. 4).
Here the Gospel episode recounted by St Mark (7: 31-37) fits in perfectly. Jesus heals a deaf-mute in the pagan land. First he welcomes him and takes care of him with the language of gestures which is more direct than words; and then, using an Aramaic term, he says "Eph'phatha", that is, "be opened", restoring the man's hearing and speech. Full of wonder, the crowd exclaims: "he has done all things well" (v. 37). We can see in this "sign" Jesus' ardent desire to overcome man's loneliness and incommunicability created by selfishness, in order to bring about a "new humanity", the humanity of listening and speech, of dialogue, of communication, of communion with God. A "good" humanity, just as all of God's Creation is good; a humanity without discrimination, without exclusion as the Apostle James recommends in his Letter (2: 1-5) so that the world is truly and for all a "scene of true brotherhood" (Gaudium et Spes, n. 37), in an opening to love of our common Father, who created us and made us his sons and daughters.
Pope Benedict XVI (Homily, 6 September 2009)
At the end of this solemn Eucharistic Celebration, I once again thank the Lord for having given me the joy of making this Pastoral Visit to your diocesan community. I have come to encourage you and to strengthen you in your fidelity to Christ, as the theme you have chosen clearly shows: "Strengthen your brethren" (Luke 22: 31). Jesus addressed these words to the Apostle Peter during the Last Supper, entrusting to him the task of being Pastor of his whole Church here on earth.
Your Diocese has been distinguished for many centuries by a unique bond of affection and communion with the Successor of Peter. I was was able to see this when I visited the Palace of the Popes, and in particular, the Conclave Hall. St Leo the Great was born in the vast territory of ancient Tuscia. He rendered a great service to the truth in charity by diligently preaching the word, as his Sermons and his Letters testify. Pope Sabinian, the Successor of Gregory the Great was born in Blera; Paul III was born in Canino. The Roman Pontiffs chose Viterbo for their residence during the whole of the second part of the 13th century. Five of my Predecessors were elected here and four of them are buried here. At least 50 visited the city the last of whom was the Servant of God John Paul II, 25 years ago. These figures have historical significance, but above all I would like to here emphasize their spiritual value. Viterbo is rightly called the "City of Popes", and this provides a further incentive for you to live and bear witness to the Christian faith, the same faith for which the Martyr Saints, Valentine and Hilary, gave their lives. They are buried in the Cathedral Church, the first of a long series of Saints, Martyrs, and Blesseds from your land.
Pope Benedict XVI (Angelus, 6 September 2009)
At the centre of today’s Gospel (Mark 7:31-37), there is a small but very important word. A word that — in its deepest sense — sums up Christ’s whole message and all his work. The Evangelist Mark records this word in the very language of Jesus in which Jesus spoke it so that we may hear it even more vividly. The word is “Ephphatha”, which means “be opened”. Let us look at the context in which it is used. Jesus was crossing the region known as Decapolis, between the coast of Tyre and Sidon and Galilee, hence an area that was not Jewish. They brought him a deaf-mute to be healed — evidently Jesus’ fame had spread that far. Jesus took him aside and touched his ears and his tongue and then, looking up to heaven, said with a deep sigh: “Ephphatha” which means “be opened”. Then the man immediately began to hear and to speak plainly (cf. Mark 7:35).
This, therefore is the historical and literal meaning of this word: thanks to Jesus’ intervention, the deaf-mute “was opened”; previously he had been closed, isolated, it had been very difficult for him to communicate. For him healing meant an “opening” to others and to the world, an opening which, starting with the organs of hearing and speech, involved his whole self and his life: he could at last communicate and thus relate in a new way.
However, we all know that a person’s closure and isolation do not only depend on the sense organs. There is an inner closure that affects the person’s inmost self, which the Bible calls the “heart”. It is this that Jesus came to “open”, to liberate, so as to enable us to live to the full our relationship with God and with others. This is why I said that this small word, “ephphatha — be opened”, sums up in itself Christ’s entire mission. He was made man so that man, rendered inwardly deaf and mute by sin, might be able to hear God’s voice, the voice of Love that speaks to his heart, and thus in his turn learn to speak the language of love, to communicate with God and with others. For this reason the word and the action of the “ephphatha” have been integrated into the Rite of Baptism as one of the signs that explain its meaning: the priest, touching the mouth and ears of the newly baptized person says: “ephphatha”, praying that he or she may soon hear the word of God and profess the faith. Through Baptism, the human person begins, so to speak, to breathe the Holy Spirit whom Jesus invoked from the Father with that deep sigh in order to heal the deaf-mute.
Let us now turn in prayer to Mary Most Holy, whose Nativity we celebrated yesterday. Because of her unique relationship with the Incarnate Word Mary was fully “open” to the Lord’s love, in her heart she was constantly listening to his word. May her maternal intercession obtain that every day, in faith, we experience the miracle of the “ephphatha”, to live in communion with God and with our brothers and sisters.
Pope Benedict XVI (Angelus, 9 September 2012)
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Compiled on 9 September 2018