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Homily of Bishop William Crean – 23rd Sunday B- 5th September 2021

23rd Sunday B
5th September 2021
St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh

“He has done all things well”

My friends,

To-day the ‘2020’ Paralympic Games conclude in Tokyo. They have taken place against the odds due to Covid 19 which led first to the cancellation of both sets of Games from last year. That sense of determination to persevere reflects the nature of the Games themselves which are a celebration of accomplishment despite living with a disability. All the athletes are invariably remarkable and inspiring, their optimism and joy is palpable. The fact that the Paralympic Games take place at all is a powerful statement about the value and dignity of each person. It contrasts strongly with the Olympic Games which of their nature are fiercely competitive with its focus on winning and being the best, sometimes at all costs.

That current experience of the Paralympic, and the values it seeks to embody and represent, serves to echo the message of all of to-day’s readings where the absence or loss of senses of sight, hearing and speech are offered to us as a way of understanding more clearly the worth of every person’s life as well as the tragedy of the absence of the gift of spiritual hearing, sight and speech.

The promise of Isaiah is the promise of wholeness and dignity as a blessing of the Lord in life. Where there is blindness, deafness and dumbness there will be healing. This is the promise of wholeness – of not being bound and limited by the restriction of our senses. The Old Testament’s promise of wholeness is fulfilled in and by Jesus the Lord in the Gospel as He personally touches and heals the deaf the dumb and the blind. Naturally the admiration of the people was unbounded.

​​​​“He has done all things well”

Ah but that was then in the dim and distant past but what of now, the reality to-day?

That is where the Letter of James is so contemporary and challenging when he invites us to consider how we judge one another, value one another, treat one another. To question ourselves about the distinctions we make and the implications of our judgements on their lives. This challenge is deeper than a genial tolerance, a live and let live. It asks the deeper questions of us about our blindness of the mind, which get reflected in our playing deaf to the voices of exclusion and their great needs and then playing dumb in the face of obvious wrong and injustice.

My friends, it takes humility and courage to allow the voices of need pass our tendency to block our ears.

In hearing these challenging questions, it is not an invitation to dump guilt for the failure of others on ourselves rather to desire to see, hear and speak in the wholesome way and path the Lord has taught us to.

​​​“Listen my sisters and brothers
​​​ It was those who are poor
​​​ According to the world, that God chose,
​​​ To be rich in faith and to be heirs
​​​ To the Kingdom which He promised
​​​ To those who love Him”​James 2:5.
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