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22 Sunday ordinary time B

August 29, 2021

Mark 7: 1-8,15,31-23

By Rev. John Tran

Today’s gospel considers how we perceive things, and are quick to make judgments from these observations of people which are made only from surface observations. They do not go the depth of what is seen.

I remember reading reading a comic strip in the Sunday newspaper some years ago. The comic strip is named ‘Curtis;’ it is about a twelve or thirteen year old boy who is full of mischief and is always looking for ways to take a short cut in doing things. Sometimes he seems very self-centered and selfish. He likes loud music, making fun of people, not doing homework or paying attention in school, telling a lie if convenient, and teasing his little brother. So what does this add up to? A person who is pretty self centered, who looks at the world only from his point of view, and needs to be happy right now.

The comic strip I am thinking of is about a church lunch on Easter. We see Curtis going through the buffet line filling up two plates. Several people see him go by. First there are two elderly ladies who see him go by with two plates piled high with food. They think how bad is mother must be not to give him enough food so that he has to eat two plates of free food.

Then, he goes by a group of men who say that Curtis is so greedy to take two plates; he only thinks of himself.

Next, he passed by a girl Curtis would like to be his girl friend with some of her friends. They tell her they are so sure that Curtis is going to bring her a plate of food and try to get her to like him. But he passes them all by.

As it turns out, they are all wrong. Curtis passes them all by and goes out of the back door of the church hall. He goes out back and and walks up to a large cardboard box with a homeless mother and her child in it. And, these homeless people are of a different race from Curtis.

So, perceptions have to be approach with care. Perceptions are often positive and constructive, but when they go bad, they can inflict havoc.

Today’s readings explain what faith really is. It is not simply great care given to external observance of rules, laws, traditions and rituals. It is a loving, obedient relationship with God expressed in recognizing His presence in other human beings and rendering them loving and humble service. Prayers, rituals, Sacraments and religious practices only help us to practice this true faith in our daily lives.

For almost 50 years Mother Teresa worked in the slums of Calcutta, India. She worked among the most forsaken people on earth. You and I would recoil from most of the people that she touched every day – the dispossessed, the downtrodden, the diseased, the desperate. And yet, everybody who met Mother Teresa remarked on her warm smile. How, after almost 50 years of working in conditions like that did she keep a warm smile on her face? Mother explains that it is interesting. “When I was leaving home in Yugoslavia at age of 18 to become a nun, my mother told me something beautiful and very strange.” She said, ‘You go put your hand in Jesus’ hand and walk along with him.'” And that was the secret of Mother Teresa’s life ever after. Many of us here have good jobs, we live in nice homes, and we have comfortable situations. But we don’t always have the warm smile on our faces that this little nun, working in the most desperate situation imaginable, had on her face. What’s the difference? It may be that we’ve never put our hand in Jesus’ hand. It may be that we have Jesus only on our lips as St. James remarks in the second reading and as Jesus remarks in today’s Gospel.

Even though I did not note the name of the author, there is a poem I would like to end with:

You can not Change Others, no but you can see them with new eyes Christ eyes who sees all - with respect and understanding

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