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Contents: Volume 2 - Twenty Third Sunday of Ordered Time Year B September 5th, 2021






1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. -- Paul O'Reilly SJ

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)





Sun. 23B 2021


In our first reading this Sunday from the Book of Isaiah, we hear the Lord tell Isaiah "Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God.... ". What a universal and timeless message! There are so many events that cause us to be frightened today including wild fires, flooding, hurricanes, political unrest and wars, the on-going and ever- changing pandemic, and the multitude of individual worries that seem to overwhelm us unexpectedly at times.


Isaiah is not here to tell us that God will save us, but God is still alive and working within us and among us. There are many in the medical field today who follow the physical healing ministry of Jesus himself demonstrated in the Gospel selection as well as those who bring the Good News to those who are spiritually deaf and mute in our times. The relief efforts that are underway and the unselfish acts of so many people far outnumber the scams and hatred that also pop up in such terrible times as we are experiencing world-wide. Caring for others as God cares for us as our second reading suggests, still does not show any partiality but overflows without distinction or evil intent.


So hear we are, knowing and believing that God will care for us... but perhaps also still a bit frightened about the mess our world or neighborhood or family is in right now! Our recourse and default should be prayer, contemplation, and guided action of some sort. Slowing down and making the time to feel God's arms around us is not easy to do when stressed or frightened, but, oh, it really helps! Sharing a bit of peacefulness with others works wonders. Comforting someone by just your presence or lending financial support to an individual in need or through a reputable non-profit organization are also ways that God can work through us right now!


God is alive! Just look around, not just at the"mess" or destruction or frightened faces that are very much there, but also at those who God has empowered to be part of the solution. Become part of the solution, even in some small way, this very day!



Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity





Twenty Third Sunday of Ordered Time September 5, 2021


Isaiah 35:4-7; Responsorial Psalm 146; James 2:1-5; Gospel Acclamation Matthew 4:23; Mark 7:31-37


The first reading from Isaiah this Sunday reminds us how we are in contact with the world, with reality. Isaiah tells us there is blindness, there is deafness, there is lameness – all challenge our contact with reality. Isaiah tells us God heals conditions challenging our connection with reality. Did God in Isaiah’s time, give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, soundness of limb to the lame? Those trapped in blindness, those who couldn’t hear Isaiah’s prophecies, and those who couldn’t walk much less leap like a stag must have taken their infirmities as a curse for their sins or the sins of their fathers. Yet, the recorded experiences in the Old Testament are laced with a firm and abiding faith in God’s loving kindness. Is Isaiah daydreaming? Is Isaiah playing Pollyanna with the hearts and minds of the people? Maybe there’s more to the story than light, noise, or location. Isiah is referring to blindness to the presence of God. God’s voice in nature, prophecy, faith, and religious leadership was suppressed by the noise of the world. So many were lame in following the way of the Lord. In the history of Israel, in this period the nation is threatened by empire building by the armies of Assyria. The future looked bleak. Isaiah, in this prophecy, encourages the nation to see beyond the obvious, to see with the eyes of faith. There is more to the story of the Assyrian incursions than appears. Underneath this time and its concerns there is the abiding presence of the Lord. And that presence makes the desert flower: the burning sands become pools of vitality for life. Have any of us ever wondered why the Hebrew and the Christian Scriptures always focus on life, on living? Isiah insists there is more to the story than what eyes see, what ears hear, what the senses tell us, and what we speak.


We’ve heard this prophecy of Isiah many times in the course of our lifetime. So, it’s a nice story, one that encourages us that God is present. It implies that life is central to what God is. Yet, for the 8 decades of my life, I wonder how often I merely looked at this as a story, an historical event in the past that has no lesson for me. I’m not blind, thank goodness. I’m not deaf – well at least not fully so. I’m still ambulatory. These gifts pretty much leave me out of learning anything from this first reading. Or does it?


In the reading from Mark’s gospel, we learn that Jesus healed this man who had no hearing. As a result of this lack, his speech was unintelligible as he had no models from hearing to teach him how to form words, how he could name things, how he could express his feelings. How wonderful for this man whose disabilities were removed so he could join society in full participation. Is there an application in this story for us?


We are blessed or maybe cursed by an overwhelming amount of information. Contemporary communication, broadcast and print media, and social media bombard us with trivia, with reporting of events, with marketing messages, with what really happened, and even with wild conspiratorial stories. We are fed with the true, the weird, the absurd, and conspiracies. Most of us are unable to fact check what’s being thrown at us. Even within the culture wars in our Church, many revel in mishandling truth so that even the Good News is twisted into pretzels. How can we hear the gospel and apply it to ourselves? Why is it that our hearing is filtered through the marketing of what others want us to hear? How do we discern what is true, what is false? In the global political environment, as well as national politics, deception and falsehood abound. Should Christians isolate themselves? Why not fall back on the spirituality of the first half of the twentieth century? How did that play out? We suffered through two world wars, Korea, and later Vietnam. What was lacking in Christian spirituality that encouraged much of Christian leadership in Germany and Italy to the horrors of Fascism, Nazism, and Communism?


Who can we trust? How do we remove the filters so expertly installed in our hearing? Is the loudest voice the one with truth? How do we have ears that hear only the truth, eyes that see what is real, taste that is true, touch that is healing? Maybe it’s a matter of who we can trust. But who tells us the truth and nothing but the truth?


The ultimate source of truth is, of course, the Trinity. What we know of the Trinity is that it is a community of three co-equal persons bound together in comprehensive unity. The Trinity is the source and model of unconditional love. What is helpful for rational and spiritual beings – us – is that two conditions for truth in relationships with God, humanity, and creation is that those relationships must unify and that seeks the common good over the special interests of individuals.


Any force, movement, or person that takes power by dividing people in emotional laced diatribes is not of God. We ought not be taken in by their manipulations and alternate realities. Diatribe divides while dialogue encourages solidarity. Dialogue is an exchange of thoughts, ideas, and efforts. Dialogue respects the dignity and worth of opponents. Scapegoating is a clear and easy sign of an attack on truth and is a characteristic of diatribe.


Efforts to accumulate and eliminate competition in economic, social, or political systems is contrary to God’s love which unites. Respect for others and efforts to support families is murdered in such an environment. Such behavior is not of the life of the Trinity.


Jesus in last Sunday’s gospel identified licentiousness as a serious sin. That awful sin comes from hearts of deceitful persons’ thoughts, actions, and omissions. A tool used by licentious persons is gossip and conspiracy theories. The wilder the story, the more impact it seems to have. But it is certainly not a characteristic of persons following the Lord.


We live in the time of great scientific achievements. In the current pandemic we are benefiting from more than a decade of research in vaccine methodologies. That decade plus of research allowed for a rapid creation of effective vaccines. The testing of the vaccines tracked thousands of inoculated persons with detailed follow up. In the past the Food and Drug Administration was well respected and trusted by the vast majority of American citizens. It appears that reputation has been intentionally attacked to cast doubt. That licentious effort has success as seen in the number of persons who refuse to participate in lessening the ravaging of the virus. There has been no factual evidence to support that doubt. Such doubt is only explainable by licentiousness in the hearts of those who shout “hoax.” In current polarization about the pandemic the doubts have allowed a devastating return to surging infections, hospitalizations, and death. It also encourages the virus to mutate and “learn” how to become more invasive and deadly and to attack more effectively our children. Many refuse vaccination because of what? It’s hard to determine. For Christians, failure to vaccinate can be one of the sins of omission we pray about in the penitential rite of the Mass. “I confess to Almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts, and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do.”


Most of us rely on medical professionals to guide us in our life’s choices. Because of that we live longer, suffer fewer debilitating diseases, and remain more alert and engaged in our families as we age. To these health care professionals should be directed any questions about vaccines and personal conditions. Politicians and companions on bar stools are rarely schooled or practiced in health care.


There is much talk about freedom of choice regarding the pandemic. Why Christians should use this bogus freedom argument to avoid attending to the common good is strange. All Hebrew and Christian Scriptures insist on the necessity and wonder of freedom. The great events of Judaism and Christianity are about freedom – the Exodus, the Return from Babylon, and most certainly the Death and Resurrection. Our Scriptures never consider freedom as including choices that lead to result in evil results for self or the common good. The virus threatens the life and vitality of everyone and especially those who live on the margins of good health. Hebrew and Christian teaching insist that those on the margins – the widows, the orphans, and the aliens among us – are to be treated with kindness and support. That is the love of neighbor taught in the two great commandments. If vaccines have been scientifically tested and approved and because masks reduce the opportunity for the virus to infect another – then what’s the question? Why the hesitancy to love one’s neighbor? Is not freedom to choose limited to choosing what is for the good of all?


We need to accept the Spirit’s presence to enlighten our minds and hearts and the hearts and minds of leadership – religious, economic, and political. Let us pray that our hearts be cleansed of falsehood. Let our speech and our conversations be plain spoken as the man cured of his lack of hearing in this Sunday’s gospel. Let us pray that our ears be opened. May the hardened was that is falsehood and fabricated conspiracies be washed out by the healing power of the Lord.


May what is good for all people be a guiding principle for our gift of freedom of choice.


Carol & Dennis Keller






Isaiah 35:4-7a; James 2:1-5; Mark 7:31-37


Every time we find ourselves listening to the stories of God at Mass, we need to ask ourselves two questions: - 1. Where am I in the story? And 2. Where are we in the story? Let’s apply that now to the story we hear today about the healing by Jesus of a disabled man, disabled by being both deaf and dumb.


Our first response to this story might be: “Well, I’m not deaf, and I’m not dumb. I’m not disabled. Or if I am, not much! So, what’s the story got to do with me?” The fact is, we’ve all got limitations, we’ve all got defects, and we’ve all got wounds. Just because ours are not as visible and as obvious as that of the man in the gospels, doesn’t mean we are simply perfect – whole and complete in every way.


In one way or another, we are all wounded and hurting. We see this in husbands who take refuge in work because they are no longer attracted to their wives. We see it in wives who are wounded by a lack of attention and affection from their husbands. We see it in parents who are fighting and arguing with one another or with their children. We see it in children who are not getting the love they need, or who are feeling smothered by ‘helicopter parents’ hovering too closely over them.


Some people carry deep wounds from bad experiences as a child. Others are wounded by sickness, or by the death of a loved one. Some are wounded by the infidelity of their partner, or by not being able to accept themselves as they are. Some are wounded by failures at work or in relationships. Others are wounded by being unable to forgive or forget. Some are wounded by being rejected by someone they love, or from nagging or bullying. Some of us are more wounded than others. But our deepest wounds may be invisible. Inside each of us, there might be a whole hidden world of hurt and pain.


With some people, their inner wounds have driven them to drugs, drink, depression or pornography, or a combination of all of these. In others, their inner wounds have led to a compulsion to prove themselves, to appear successful, to win, to dominate, to show off, and even perhaps to an obsession with helping and saving others – to acting out a kind of “messiah complex.”


On the road to healing, the first step is to own that we are indeed wounded and hurting. Counselling with a caring therapist or even deep and conversations with a trusted friend may help us find the source of our frustration and put us on the road to recovery.


But no matter what our wounds are, what needs healing most of all is our heart, our mental and emotional outlook. If only our hearts could change, we could move on and give so much more to our relationships. But as a result of particularly painful experiences, our hearts are often left empty, cold and unwelcoming, hard and unyielding, and weighed down with frustration, worry and anxiety. Maybe we even find ourselves struggling to mend a broken heart?

We should not be surprised by any of this. It means simply that we are human beings with hearts of flesh, not hearts of stone. Just the same, our wounded hearts ache to be relieved and healed, so that we might find freedom and deliverance, love and peace, joy and contentment.


This miracle Jesus did on that deaf and dumb man reminds us that hearing is a precious gift. But it is only with the heart, a heart like the heart of Jesus, that we can hear what is hurting others most of all. The cry of someone in need may reach our ears, but if it does not touch our hearts, we will not feel that person’s pain, and we will not do anything about it. The miracle that Jesus worked reminds us too that the gift of speech is a precious gift. But if our words are not heart-felt, they will be empty, hollow, and a waste of time.


In touching the ears and tongue of that disabled sufferer, Jesus also touched his wounded heart. It was that touch, more than anything else, which made him a different person, a new man. That was the real miracle. It’s the same for us. So, for the healing of our wounded, damaged, or broken hearts, we must look to Jesus, just as Pope Francis has advised. He says:


If there are times when you experience sadness, depression, negative feelings, I would ask you to look at Christ crucified. Look at his face. He sees us; in his eyes, there is a place for us. We can all bring to Christ our wounds, our pain, our sins. In his wounds, there is a place for our own wounds. There they can be soothed, washed clean, changed, and healed. He died for us, for me, so that he could stretch out his hand and lift us.


We must also be ready to look to other human beings, persons who can and will put us together again, who can and will put us on the road to recovery. In this great work, we can experience them as agents of Jesus - the greatest healer there ever was – healer of wounded, disabled, and broken people - of people like us, people like you and me.


To give an example (borrowed from Richard Leonard SJ)! A baby girl was seriously ill in a hospital ICU. The pediatric specialist said there was very little hope. Michael, the baby’s five-year-old brother, kept begging his parents to let him see his sister. “I want to sing to her,” he kept saying. Children were not allowed in the ICU, but eventually his mother’s persistence prevailed. When Michael reached his sister’s cradle, he sang to her: “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are grey.” The nurse reported that as Michael sang, the baby’s pulse rate began to come down and become steady. “Keep on singing, Michael,” encouraged his mother with tears in her eyes. He sang on: “You never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.” The baby recovered and left the hospital three weeks later.


May the passion of Jesus Christ, and his everlasting love, be always within our minds and hearts!


"Brian Gleeson CP" <>





Year B: 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time


“He has done all things well: He makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.”


About fifteen – well actually, nearer twenty - years ago I knew a man who was the chief executive of a company. And one day he got the offer of a new job. He was asked by the government to take over the leadership of a very large government corporation which had fallen on very hard times. This corporation was losing many millions of pounds every year. Really the Government wanted to close it down because of the losses that had accumulated and because they didn’t really think it could be saved. But because the corporation employed several thousand people in a marginal constituency, it was afraid to do so because it would lose votes. So they asked my friend to go and have a look and see what he could do. So off he went.


As soon as he arrived he saw the scale of the problem. Sales had been falling for years, and were now down to an all-time low. Trying to maintain income they had raised the prices far above the level of competition and that had made the sales fall even more quickly. And so there was less need for production and many of the workers were idle all day. Not surprisingly, the morale was very low: everyone knew that the company was doing badly, that it was losing money and that their jobs were at risk.


Now, I really wish I could tell you exactly how my friend managed to achieve the great turnaround in the company’s fortunes that he did. Not only would it make for a better story – and even perhaps a better homily - but I’m sure that knowledge would be worth enormous amounts to many people. But, I just don’t know. However, two years after he arrived, the company had increased sales and was making a profit - not a big profit, but a profit. It was out of debt. And it had not had to get rid of a single employee. It was a magnificent achievement. And what I found most amazing was not just that I didn’t know how he had done it, and none of the people he worked with knew how he had done it, but even he himself couldn’t explain how he had done it.


He did not seem to do anything very different to what the previous unsuccessful managers had done. He had no special techniques, no different ideas, no huge inspirations. He isn’t even a particularly good speaker. He had none of the usual characteristics of great inspirational leaders.


So how did he do it?


I remember discussing this with some of the senior managers and one of them said something which really struck me very powerfully: he said: “He makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.”


I asked him what he meant. And he said: “Well, he makes the deaf hear: He somehow gets people - people who have never listened to anybody - to understand why they are being asked do things - why they are being asked to change the way they have always done things - for the good of the company. And he makes the dumb speak - he makes people who haven’t really participated in the company for years – people who have never brought their minds to work – he makes them become enthusiastic about company and gets them talking about their own ideas for its improvement. Somehow he has the ability to bring people together and to focus them, mind, body, heart and soul, on the good of the company and its work as a whole and not just on their own individual interests. None of us knows how he does it, but it’s as if they undergo a religious conversion.”


I think that this is part of what is being said about Jesus in today’s Scriptures. His whole life, his whole earthly ministry, is devoted to bringing people together, enabling them to transcend their own individual, selfish and worldly concerns, and bring them to realize that their lives can only have meaning as part of a greater service to God. That is what all of us who call ourselves his followers must question ourselves about:


In what ways are we deaf to the call of God?

In what ways are we dumb and failing to speak - and to be - the Word of God that Jesus has given us to preach?

Let us pray that the Lord who has done all things well - may cause us to hear His Call and cause us to speak His Word.


And let us stand and profess our Faith in God who makes us all speak and hear.


Paul O'Reilly <>





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