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Listening and Responding

     Since his election on March 13th 2013, Pope Francis has given the church a renewed mission to serving and aiding the poor and marginalized. He has made an effort, in being pope, to refocus the mission of the church to care for the poor. In his Encyclical The Joy of The Gospel His Holiness writes," If we who are God's means of hearing the poor, turn deaf ears to this plea, we oppose the Fathers will and his plan... A lack of solidarity towards his or her needs will directly affect our relationship with God. " (187) Throughout his papacy, thus-far, the pope practices what he preaches. He has installed wash rooms with showers for the homeless, he has had sleeping bags with his coat of arms given out at night, he has has barber shops open for the poor, and much more for the sake of poor.

     The letter from St James, that we hear this weekend is a continuation from last weekend. WE heard, last weekend, James preaching that Faith, without works, is dead. This week, he address a problem happening within Christian communities and uses it has an example in applying what he is teaching. He points out the faulty in their hierarchical system, that the rich get assigned best seating, and the poor are left to the side, and marginalized- even at communion! The people have made separations, among themselves, and have created differences, which is the opposite of what Christ intended. Christ came for unity among believers, not divisions. The very word, "communion" means to  unite, and looks beyond all human separations. 

     Jesus, in todays Gospel, is brought a man who is deaf and mute. Begged by the gentiles, Jesus heals this man in private. By the time the Gospel of Mark was written around 70 AD, Christians had been working and established communities among the gentiles for around 30 years already. So Mark has this portion of the Gospel, which is only in his, that shows Jesus' work among the gentiles. The Gospel shows Jesus' healing power, and his opening of the tongue of the man and his ears. It was a miracle, that allowed the man to hear, and respond. 

     Throughout the Gospels we see this two fold pattern, listening and responding. For instance, a few weeks ago we had finished the Bread of Life discourse from the Gospel of John. At the very end, Jesus gave the chance for his hearers to respond. Jesus needs true faith. He needs a heart that will listen and respond with joy. A heart, from us, that are firm and truly believe in our strong response to his call. 

     So often in life we can become "deaf" from hearing God and what he wants from us. His message can be drowned by the many of the secular and inappropriate messages of today. These messages are ones that lead to an empty happiness- ones that lead us to false sense of joy. However, somewhere among the dangerous messages, their is one, true, and realistic message that gives eternal life. It is the Good News of Jesus.  Yet our current secular, capitalistic and relativistic society, wants to drown and destroy the message of the faith. The message that gives eternal life to all who believe in Jesus. 

     When we legitimately search for Jesus, he will be found. (Mth 7:7-8) When we do, Christ will make himself present. He will offer us the healing to hear His message among so many others. He will give us the strength to continue to listen and be nourished by his message. 

     His message is one of good news-one that cares for the poor, restores dignity to the marginalized, and makes all feel welcomed. It is a message where no divisons exist. It is a a message where we all partake of the heavenly banquet, if we respond fully with our heart. God is calling us to share this message of unity, compassion and mercy. 

This message has been, and will forever to be proclaimed by Pope Francis and the example that he is leading us forward in. He is leading a life of example, a life that embodies this message.  The letter of St James makes us aware of this message, and the necessity to be close to the poor and to realize that in Gods house, all of our divisions evaporate.

" The great majority of the poor have a special openness to the faith, they need God and we must not fail to offer them his friendship, his blessing, his word, the celebration of the sacraments, and a journey of growth and maturity in the faith."   

-Pope Francis
The Joy of the Gospel  200

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