Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B

Purcaro, Arthur.jpg

Arthur P. Purcaro, O.S.A.
Saint Augustine Friary
Villanova, Pennsylvania

Readings
Is 35:4-7a
Ps 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10
Jas 2:1-5
Mk 7:31-37

Consider today, as in times past, just how we are similar to the person in today’s Gospel who could not hear and had a speech impediment. Like that person, are we too not blind and deaf? Many people are frightened about the current state of things, of what faces them, their children and grandchildren. Paralyzed and beleaguered, they grumble and complain.

Much the same has been thought and said in previous times. Let’s consider what Augustine said, what he preached in the year 411 in northern Africa, so that we too can be encouraged by his words in our own times. Augustine starts by commenting on the things he heard, similar perhaps to what we hear, and say, ourselves.

You say, “It’s a foul world, it shouldn’t be loved…bad things are done in the world, harsh, vile, hateful things.”

Yes, that is what it’s like, and even so it’s loved.

You say, the times are troublesome, the times burdensome, the times are miserable. Live rightly and you will change the times. The times have never hurt anyone. Those who are hurt are human beings; those whom they hurt are human beings. So, change human beings, and the times will be changed.”

Bad times are only made by bad people.

The house is in ruins and we are too lazy to move…. Do these things offend you? Choose another life. Love God, scorn all these things. However bad the world is, however bitter, however full of disasters, if you were told by God that you would stay here forever, wouldn’t you hug yourself for joy, exult and give thanks?

And now here comes the grumbler, who’s always looking for something to find fault with…. If only he would go back to himself, really see himself, find fault with himself! Go back to your heart, and from there to God. You’re going back, you see, from the nearest possible place, if you’ve gone back to your heart. Because when you take offense at these things we’ve been talking about, it means you have gone out even from yourself; you’ve become an exile from your own bosom. You’re upset by things outside you, and you lose sight of your own self. You yourself are inside, these things are to hand outside. There are good things outside, but outside is where they are.

God did not create anything bad.

It’s only good loving that makes good living.

Listen to the advice of your Lord: For where your treasure is, there too is your heart. Every day, Christian believer, you hear Lift up your hearts; and as though you heard the opposite, you sink your heart into the earth. Transport it. Have you go the means? Do good with it. You haven’t got the means? Don’t grumble against God. Listen to me, you who are poor: what is lacking to you if you have God? Listen to me, you who are rich: what do you possess if you do not have God?

Sermon 311 was preached by St Augustine over 16 centuries ago yet it speaks clearly to us today, inviting us to return to our heart, to look inside, to discover God and honor God, whose temples we have become.