By our Baptism Call

09-05-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

In this week's Old Testament passage, the prophet Isaiah announces that the present mood of melancholy in Israel will turn to its opposite. He uses images to make this absolutely clear for the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the one who cannot move will win foot races, the one who is without words will be full of words—songs even. The very land itself will come alive: sands will be watered, deserts will flower. This is quite the prophetic statement by Isaiah.

The Gospel matches and complements the vision of Isaiah. Through Jesus, God's power reverses the condition of the humans who cannot hear and therefore cannot speak. All of the miracles of Jesus can be viewed through the lens of his death and resurrection. All of his words and actions are distinct and clear. Each healing, saving action, and word is but a manifestation of the great saving action of the Paschal Mystery.

Miracles are making physically present to us the reign of God. Note that what occurs in a miracle is the healing of both body and soul. Everything, in a sense, changes. A person is made whole and is restored to community life. In fact, the community is healed by welcoming back the presence of the healed person. We see this in the deaf man whose limitation kept him closed off from everyday life. This healing action of Jesus makes apparent to one and all that that no one need be left out of the reign of God.

In our second reading, James also writes about this theme. The author encourages us to see as Jesus saw and act as he acted. He tells us that the community is to be the welcoming and freeing body gathered in the death and resurrection of Jesus. This may demand a complete change in viewing and understanding for us. We are now to identify with the ones who are poor in the eyes of the world. Our task is to see anew and be renewed.

It is important to realize that each one of us has a particular point of view in how we see the world. Sometimes it is less than the best. It may be difficult to change or adjust our point of view. Conversion of our hearts and minds is not easy, but it is necessary.

By our baptism call, we learn that we are to open our eyes, our ears, and our mouths. God asks that we offer witness. Through our personal words and prayer, our values and actions, obedience, and focus, we are to go forth into our world to transform it and especially the people in it in the name of Jesus Christ.