Sunday Mass at Sulaymaniya, 19 August 2012

A thought

Today, as we encounter often in the readings, there appears the question: "Who is believer?" Few of us come to a deep experience of faith other than through a profound depression. Often it seems that men are only capable to open themselves to the Lord through hopelessness and vulnerability of a complete disaster. If we remember how important it is to hear the voice of God in the Bible, we might grasp how desperate must be the situation of the deaf in the reading of the old Testament. In many of the places of the world the tragedy of leprosy is today only known through history and stories. But it meant being completely outcast from the society. And we know that our situation is as desperate as the one of the deaf and the leprous. In fact basically our situation is completely out of our hand.

So what the Word of God is offering us? With His healing he brings us back freedom. Being liberated by His deed on the cross, and his resurrection, sets us free to take anew our life in the hand. All we have to do is to consciously look at the facts of our experience. St. Luke is a physician and if you pay attention in your lecture of his Gospel he is fascinated about healing and specially about healing of blindness. This time however he is not speaking about blindness but about people who do see but are not seeing - who do not discern. Only the Samaritan, the heretic from the Jewish point of view, takes all his freedom in both hands, relates himself to its source and shows all his self to Jesus Christ, priest of the order of Melchizedek. Yes, salvation can only be given to whom comes freely to the Lord.

Listening to the call to the prayer today reminds me that these readings are also a reminder that God is not outcasting anybody he is touching anybody. I am convinced that He rejoices the great effort (al-Jihad) the Muslim Community undertook this month of Ramadan for His sake. And surely he is delighted about any intercession on behalf the Muslims or for this or that particular Muslim. For prayer on behalf of other persons and makes the intercessor instrument of the Spirit and disciple of the Son.

First Reading

13 The Lord then said: Because this people approaches me only in words, honours me only with lip-service while their hearts are far from me, and reverence for me, as far as they are concerned, is nothing but human commandment, a lesson memorised,

14 very well, I shall have to go on astounding this people with prodigies and wonders: for the wisdom of its wise men is doomed, the understanding of any who understand will vanish.

15 Woe to those who burrow down to conceal their plans from Yahweh, who scheme in the dark and say, 'Who can see us? Who knows who we are?'

16 How perverse you are! Is the potter no better than the clay? Something that was made, can it say of its maker, 'He did not make me'? Or a pot say of the potter, 'He does not know his job'?

17 Is it not true that in a very short time the Lebanon will become productive ground, so productive you might take it for a forest?

18 That day the deaf will hear the words of the book and, delivered from shadow and darkness, the eyes of the blind will see.

19 The lowly will find ever more joy in Yahweh and the poorest of people will delight in the Holy One of Israel;

20 for the tyrant will be no more, the scoffer has vanished and all those on the look-out for evil have been destroyed:

21 those who incriminate others by their words, those who lay traps for the arbitrator at the gate and groundlessly deprive the upright of fair judgement.

(Isa 29:13-21 NJB)


Second Reading

You know yourselves, my brothers, that our visit to you has not been pointless.

2 Although, as you know, we had received rough treatment and insults at Philippi, God gave us the courage to speak his gospel to you fearlessly, in spite of great opposition.

3 Our encouragement to you does not come from any delusion or impure motives or trickery.

4 No, God has approved us to be entrusted with the gospel, and this is how we preach, seeking to please not human beings but God who tests our hearts.

5 Indeed, we have never acted with the thought of flattering anyone, as you know, nor as an excuse for greed, God is our witness;

6 nor have we ever looked for honour from human beings, either from you or anybody else,

7 when we could have imposed ourselves on you with full weight, as apostles of Christ. Instead, we lived unassumingly among you. Like a mother feeding and looking after her children,

8 we felt so devoted to you, that we would have been happy to share with you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, so dear had you become.

9 You remember, brothers, with what unsparing energy we used to work, slaving night and day so as not to be a burden on any one of you while we were proclaiming the gospel of God to you.

10 You are witnesses, and so is God, that our treatment of you, since you believed, has been impeccably fair and upright.

(1Th 2:1-10 NJB)


The Gospel

11 Now it happened that on the way to Jerusalem he was travelling in the borderlands of Samaria and Galilee.

12 As he entered one of the villages, ten men suffering from [leprosy] came to meet him. They stood some way off

13 and called to him, 'Jesus! Master! Take pity on us.'

14 When he saw them he said, 'Go and show yourselves to the priests.' Now as they were going away they were cleansed.

15 Finding himself cured, one of them turned back praising God at the top of his voice

16 and threw himself prostrate at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. The man was a Samaritan.

17 This led Jesus to say, 'Were not all ten made clean? The other nine, where are they?

18 It seems that no one has come back to give praise to God, except this foreigner.'

19 And he said to the man, 'Stand up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.'

(Luk 17:11-19 NJB)