Rich in Faith and Heirs of the Kingdom
Twenty Third Sunday of Ordinary Time - B

Frank Enderle
Reproduced with Permission

In our Gospel Reading, Saint Mark tells us how Jesus left the territory of Tyre, which today is a city in southern Lebanon. He passed through another modern day Lebanese city, Sidon, on his way to the Sea of Galilee, going through the region of Decapolis, which in Greek means, “ten towns.” It was called this because of the ten towns that were located in that area. Jesus had previously distanced himself from Jewish territory because the Pharisees and the Jewish authorities were turning against Him. I suppose that He also went because He wanted to bring the Good News of salvation to the pagans who lived in this area. The regions surrounding Tyre, Sidon and Decapolis were inhabited mostly by pagans. Curiously, it was in this area that the Lord discovered people of great faith. They not only had faith in Him, but also in His ministry.

Our Gospel Reading today also tells us about the curing of a deaf man who had a speech impediment and who was taken to the Lord by other people. The people who accompanied this man were the ones who asked Jesus to “lay hands on him” and cure him. When Jesus saw the faith of these people, He took the man aside and cured him. He then pleaded with the people not to talk to anyone about this cure. But Saint Mark tells us that the more that Jesus asked them to do so, the more they proclaimed it everywhere.

In his Gospel, each time that Saint Mark uses the word, “proclaim” in relation to Jesus and his disciples, it is to explain how they preached the Gospel. By using, on this occasion, the same word, it is as if Saint Mark wanted to tell us that by loudly proclaiming what had occurred, the pagans were actually preaching the Good News of the salvific mission of Jesus. By curing the sick in this predominantly pagan region, Jesus clearly showed us that He not only came to save the Chosen People, the Jews, but all of humanity.

In the Second Reading, Saint James says that favoritism is an attitude that is not Christian. We show our attitude towards others in the way that meetings are held in the groups we belong to, in the place chosen for the meeting and in those invited to form part of the group. Saint James tells us that the way that we treat other people who come into our liturgical assembly, those who want to be part of our community, shows the Christian love that we have for others. The liturgy, our Holy Mass, is a dialogue between God and His people. We cannot gather together to praise God if we show our contempt and our disdain for the people who want to be part of our community simply because they are poor. All of us are daughters and sons of God. As Saint James says, “Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him?” All of God’s creatures should be respected and loved. Our way of interacting with those who are newly arrived, with those who want to join our community - the respect and consideration we show towards them - says a lot about our faith in God.

The First Reading tells us that our perspective of the coming of God should make us happy and encourage us to persevere on our road to eternity. If, by our way of acting, we have shown that we are not good Christians, if we have sinned, we should repent, confess our sins and return to a Christian way of life, loving God as ourselves and our neighbor for the love of God.