Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 9, 2018)

We have just heard that curious command of Jesus: “Don’t tell anyone about the miracle you’ve just witnessed.” And Mark tells us that the people went about telling of Jesus’ power to heal. Why would Jesus make such a strange command?

Jesus knew human nature all too well. He knew how easily we are attracted by power, by the miraculous. He also knew that power can distract us from examining reality.

Today’s Scripture readings call us to look beyond the miraculous, the powerful and seek to understand reality. Jesus makes the deaf hear and the mute speak clearly in order to point to the reality that God is present among his people. He is the fulfillment of God’s promise made through the prophet Isaiah. Jesus is trying to tell the people whose hearts of frightened: “Be strong, fear not! Here is your God; … he comes to save you.” Jesus’ power to heal reveals the compassionate faithfulness of God.

But he’s concerned that the people will be distracted by the miraculous and never come to understand who he really is and why he has come. And we all know that his concern was justified. Many found it difficult to identify the miracle worker with the crucified Savior.

The words of St. James remind us that we are part of the human race, and we’re susceptible to the distraction of power. The attractiveness of power can blind us to reality in everyday living. How easily we are attracted by wealth, power and position. How often we choose to pay attention to people who have and ignore those who don’t have. Power distracts us from the reality that all of us are equally made in the image and likeness of our God. And Jesus reverenced the needy as well as the well-off as deserving of God’s compassionate love.

The Scriptures seem to call us to look more deeply within ourselves. What has my God told me about reality? Does power distract me from that reality? Jesus desires to live in each of us as crucified savior, as well as miracle worker. Each person desires to be reverenced for who he or she is by creation, as well as for what he or she says or does.

May we ask for the grace each day to discipline ourselves to see through power and love the reality of our God and our brothers and sisters.