READINGS: Isaiah 35:4-7/ James 2:1-5/ Mark 7:31-37
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Physical and Spiritual Challenges:

If a double amputee athlete can run faster than millions of ‘physically’ able people, are the latter rather not the physically challenged?  Again, most of us can see the black and white keys of the keyboard, but cannot play the organ; whereas, the blind Steve Wonder, for instance, who cannot see even the colour differentiation of the black and white keys, is wonderful on the keyboard.  Who, then, is physically challenged: Steve Wonder or those who cannot play the keyboard?

If ‘able’ persons cannot see their physical challenges, then it is less likely that they can appreciate their spiritual challenges. To be spiritually challenged is to fall short of the standards of God. And, all of us, according to St. Paul, have fallen short of the standards of God: ‘all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God’ (Rom. 3:23). Therefore, to varying degrees, each person has both physical and spiritual challenges or infirmities.

God heals all infirmities:

Whatever be our infirmities, God can heal us. This is the assurance of the prophet Isaiah: ‘Courage! Do not be afraid. Look, your God is coming . . . to save you.  Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unsealed; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy’ (Isa. 35:4-7). Some centuries thereafter, in the synagogue of Nazareth, Jesus the Son of God would declare that He had come to fulfill this prophecy of Isaiah (Luke 4:16-21). Indeed, in His ministry, Jesus would give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, strength to the lame, speech to the dumb, among others (cf. John 9:1-11; Mark 2:1-12; 7:31-37).

Healing the blind:

The music teacher of the blind Steve Wonder saw in him, not a physical challenge, but a talent. Similarly, in the blind who seek His healing by faith, Jesus sees not darkness or gloom, but the potential or ability to appreciate God’s glory. So, He heals them so that their potential of praising God flourishes. For example, in John 9, when people were debating why the man was born blind, Jesus said it was meant to reveal the glory of God. Thus, when Jesus eventually opened the eyes of the man, the latter praised God and His goodness.

Whereas many physically blind people may appreciate the goodness and glory of God, many who have eyes to see may be spiritually blind to His goodness and glory. So, in case, we are partially or fully blind to God’s goodness and glory, may Jesus heal us today. Amen!

Healing the deaf:

In the physically deaf who seek His healing by faith, Jesus sees not a hearing defect, but the potential to receive and cherish the good news of salvation. So, He heals them so that their potential of receiving and cherishing the good news is unleashed. In today’s gospel reading, for example, deaf man who was healed by Jesus eagerly received the good news.

Whereas many physically deaf people are eager to hear God’s message, many who are physically sound in hearing are rather spiritually deaf to His message. So, in case, we are partially or fully deaf to God’s Word, may Jesus heal us today, making us always attentive and faithful to it. Amen!

Healing the lame:

The coach of an amputee athlete sees in him/her, not disability, but ability. Similarly, in the physically lame who seek His healing by faith, Jesus sees not the disability to walk, but the ability to depend on God.  So, He heals them so that their ability to depend on God is made manifest.

Whereas many physically lame depend on God, many physically abled people are spiritually lame due to their lack of faith. So, in case, we are spiritually limping or fully lame, may Jesus heal us today, making us always steady on the path of faith or righteousness. Amen!

Healing the dumb:

Jesus sees in the dumb, not the inability to speak, but the potential to eagerly proclaim the goodness of the Lord. So, He heals them so that their potential of proclaiming God’s goodness and mercy is unleashed. The eagerness of healed dumb persons to proclaim the goodness and mercy of God is very evident in today’s gospel reading. Thus, the more Jesus ordered the healed man and others to keep quiet, the more they proclaimed: ‘He has done all things well; He makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak’ (Mark 7:37).

Whereas many physically dumb people are eager to proclaim God’s goodness and mercy, many who are capable of speaking are rather spiritually dumb. Therefore, in case, we are partially or fully spiritually dumb, may Jesus loosen our tongues in spirit, so that we can eagerly testify to God’s goodness and mercy. Amen!


God in His Son, Jesus Christ, heals all infirmities or sicknesses, whether physical or spiritual. Let us, therefore, ask Him to enable us to identify our illness, and then seek His healing with faith. Amen!

By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis

Bishop John Kobina Louis

Most Rev. John Kobina Louis is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Accra, Ghana. More about him here.

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Catholic Homilies and Sermons for the Liturgical Year by Most Rev. John Kobina Louis, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Accra, Ghana.

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