Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time 5 September 2021

“Go to the peripheries, smell the sheep” is a rough translation of Pope Francis’ words of some years ago. Today’s readings found me remembering not just his words, but also the historical fact that in our long history, so many wonderful movements within our faith community started “on the periphery”; Mary MacKillop is but one of a great number in our world.

We find Jesus in an alien gentile world again today. He is, in Mark’s account, slowly making his somewhat circuitous way to Jerusalem. We can easily see today that he, in effect, was saying gently, “You are all God’s children”. This truth is hammered home by the action he took, drawing on his own tradition “…the ears of the deaf unsealed…and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy”.

His six-step action of taking aside, putting hands in the ears, spitting, touching the tongue, deep groan and command of healing may reflect some of the practices of the gentile world, but Jesus said in his own name “Be opened.”

That raised the bar.

That action set a new standard for the early Church and, indeed, for all time…

We sometimes fall into the security of complacency. Prophets like Isaiah reminded the community then, of the Lord’s standards, and Pope Francis is in similar vein today.

It may well be the task of the elected Governments to tackle the physical ailments of Covid-19, but who will pick up the pieces of fractured relationships in the near future? People need people. Families need families. That task may well rest with you and me.

We still belong to the family of whom it was said by Matthew, “Jesus preached the news of the kingdom, and healed all who were sick.”

Mons Frank