The 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – The Homily
In today’s Gospel reading, the first point to notice in the story is:
“And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. Jesus took him off by himself away from the crowd.”
Why did Jesus do this?
If a deaf person would suddenly start to hear again, every sound would seem a bit odd and very loud. It would not be pleasant for the man if he were in a noisy crowd. Jesus thought about how the man would feel and so (Verse 33) “Jesus took him away to a quiet place.”
The second point to notice in the story:
According to verse 31 of today’s Gospel of Mark, Jesus left Tyre and he went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, and the region of the Ten Towns or, in Greek, The Decapolis.” (By the way, that journey was about 75 miles).
The Decapolis (Or “The Ten Cities”) was a group of ten cities, most which were located East of the Jordan River. Though sometimes described as a “league” of cities, they were never formally organized as a political unit. The cities were grouped together because of their language, culture, location, and political status, with each functioning as an autonomous city-state. The Decapolis was a center of Greek and Roman culture in a region that was otherwise Semitic (Nabatean, Aramean, and Jewish). The 10 cities were:
- The modern day city of Amman, the capital of Jordan which, back then was known as …. Philadelphia
For the most part, the people in the Decapolis didn’t know who Jesus was. Jesus was simply “The guy who heals people.”
But Jesus was so much more.
A priest recently related a story about a trip to Germany. He arrived at the airport and went to hale a taxi. The priest was in his clerical garb and the taxi driver asked,
“Are you a priest?”
The priest was tired from the journey and probably not in the best of moods so he answered,
“Yes, are you a taxi driver?”
Maybe not the most charitable answer but the taxi driver then responded,
“You’re the guys who don’t get married, right?”
What’s a priest? The guys who don’t get married. Is that it? Is that all there is? A priest is so much more.
If you ever share your faith, you might have a “taxi driver encounter.” You’re Catholic; you’re the ones who:
- Won’t let divorced people receive communion.
- Are against abortion.
- Have those pedophile priests.
- Are against gay marriage.
- Don’t believe in women priests.
But the Catholic Church is so much more.
This is also how many people understand, equate and define the Catholic Church. This is how many people understand, equate and define YOU as Catholics. But you are so much more.
I’m a few weeks the Vicar of Christ will be coming to “this” Philadelphia. He’s going to be bringing the Holy Spirit with him. Afterwards I believe that you can expect a positive “Francis Effect.”
Some people will be touched at a profound and deep spiritual level.
Some people will be move out of a mistrust of the Church and its people into a “curious phase.” They will be asking you questions and you will have an opportunity to move them away from a “taxi driver understanding” of our faith.
What will you say?
This is a HUGH issue because, when you speak about our faith and our Church and our Pope and our people, it will be to people who, for YEARS in some cases, will hear for the first time.
Audio version of the homily is here: