23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (6 September)

Walking AidHe has just turned seven years old and has cerebral palsy. When I met him in June, his big news was that he could now run. He asked me if I would video him running with his ‘walker’, and I happily obliged. It wasn’t just the speed at which his little legs and feet could move, it wasn’t just the exuberant smile of joy that lit up his face, but it was the dance you could feel in his heart that was the most moving. He had become the fulfillment of Isaiah’s words of hope and promise, “Then will the lame leap like a stag.” How had this come about? Certainly through the power of God, but that power of God as worked through doctors, therapists and devoted parents who exercise with him daily.

Jesus knew well the words of Isaiah, “Here is your God, who comes with vindication.” Therefore, when he met the man who was deaf and who could not speak, he knew what he had to do. He knew the power of God, and how it worked in him. He knew that wherever he went and in whatever he did he made God present, and where God is present and God’s power at work there is vindication and healing.

This is the second healing story that follows the discussion about ritual cleansing and human regulations that we heard last week. The Gospel writer is making it clear that Jesus is about the work of God and not the work of human precepts. His mission was the fulfillment of the promise of which Isaiah spoke. He was that word to those whose hearts were frightened, “Here is your God, coming with vindication and divine recompense”.

But Jesus was not a one-man show. He understood time constraints, he understood the immensity of the harvest and the scarcity of laborers, so he sent the twelve and the seventy-two out to preach God’s presence and to be channels of God’s healing power. That, too, is the mission on which He has sent us – to preach that God is present and to be channels of God’s healing power.

We have seen this power mightily at work with our own eyes and in our own time. There are the many who are channels of God’s healing power in medicine and medical research. We have seen our own Sisters and their lay colleagues in the schools for deaf children in Cabra open the ears of the deaf to a world of communication through a variety of teaching methods. We know people who have opened the eyes of the blind to the joy of reading through the Braille system. Theirs has been commitment to the mission of Jesus, making God present, and with that presence the healing power is possible. They have let that power flow through them. Like Jesus, they have lived out the dream of God as spoken to us today through the Prophet Isaiah. Their commitment to it is a challenge to us all.

So I must ask who are the blind, the lame and the deaf whose lives have been changed because I have a commitment to that dream of God?

Elizabeth Ferguson, OP

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