23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 35:4-7. Praise the Lord, my soul! – Psalm 145(146):7-10. James 2:1-5. Mark 7:31-37.

God chose the poor according to the world to be rich in faith

Today’s readings form a complete package. Isaiah and the Psalm speak of God’s care for the poor and the suffering, and of his promised healing. We see this promise fulfilled in Jesus’ love for the man he meets in Decapolis, and James unfolds some of the practical ethical implications of this in our lives and especially our worship. In this neat bundle, Isaiah’s reference to vengeance and retribution can seem an odd fit. It was a revelation to me to learn a few years ago to think about this vengeance from the perspective of a suffering people. To the oppressed, God’s vengeance on their oppressors looks a lot like salvation. From this perspective we can see the apparent tension between God’s justice and mercy dissolve. I pray that where I am blind to the dignity or sufferings of others, or to my sins, Jesus might give me sight.