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
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
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,
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
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
HEALING OUR WOUNDS AND BROKENNESS: 23RD SUNDAY B
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
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" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Year B: 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time
“He has done all things well: He makes the deaf hear and the
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
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
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 <email@example.com>
Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and
insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the
preaching you hear. Send them to
Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email
-- Fr. John Boll, OP