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23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – Homily

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Isaiah 35:4-7a
James 2:1-5
Mark 7:31-37
*Psalm 146, 6-7, 8-9, 9-10 (1b)
September 6, 2015

Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not!

What frightens us?  What comes to mind for you?  It might be being the victim of physical violence.  It might be the fear of someone no longer loving us.  It might be fear of not having what we need to survive.

There are honest, hardworking people who fear having enough money to buy food, clothing and pay the rent.  Do we care?  God does!

Our psalm today speaks of how God gives food to the hungry.  Someone might think, ‘oh, good, I don’t have to help them because God will take care of them.’  God does want to take care of the poor but He wants to do it through us.

There are ways in which we are a generous parish.  We have our Food Pantry that provides food for anywhere from 100 to 180 households each week.  It is completely staffed by dedicated volunteers.  A large amount of the food is donated but our food pantry relies on monetary donations to buy some of the food.

We are generous in supporting Catholic Charities with donating items for them to help the poor.  Our poor box in back goes to Catholic Charities.

For Thanksgiving and Christmas we offer assistance and gifts to a few families in need.

These are all good works.  Many of the beneficiaries are strangers to us but that doesn’t matter for as our psalm says, “The Lord protects strangers.

The psalm also tells us that God “secures justice for the oppressed.

What comes to mind when you hear the word “oppressed”?  Is it slavery or those who are suffer violence because of their faith or because they are “different”?

What about those who are not giving a “fair deal”?

They put in a good day’s work.  Some might even do more than a fair day’s work but they aren’t given a chance to get ahead in life.  It might be in low pay or being overlooked for promotions.  They are willing to work hard but keep getting looked over because they seem poor.  What does James say?  “Show no partiality”.

Monday is Labor Day, a day meant to celebrate the work (labor) we do.  It isn’t for boasting about the work we do but a day to be thankful for the work that everyone does.

We need to express our thanks.  This can be in words but it also needs to include a fair day’s wages for a fair day’s work.  This can’t be fixed in one massive increase but we have to start someplace.  We might also look to see what can be done to make the cost of living more reasonable.

The work itself is important.  We take a significant step in finding fulfillment in life when we work using the gifts God has given us to work.

How might Jesus be asking to you to help the oppressed, the hungry, the blind, and the stranger?

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