(23rd Ordinary Sunday: Isaiah 35:4-7; James 2:1-5; Mark 7:31-37)
The texts the Church puts before us today might at first appear somewhat less challenging or stimulating than usual. On the other hand the La Salette connections to these readings are abundant and fertile.
In Isaiah: “Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! ... Streams will burst forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe.” We hear the Beautiful Lady’s first words to Mélanie and Maximin. We see the miraculous fountain.
In the Psalm: “The God of Jacob... gives food to the hungry...; the way of the wicked he thwarts.” We recall Mary’s promise of abundance if her people take her words to heart... and her fear of further calamities if they do not.
In James: “Show no partiality... Did not God choose those who are poor in the world?” Maximin’s family was far from rich; and Mélanie’s was desperately poor.
In the Gospel, the opening of the deaf man’s ears may be seen in Mary’s speaking to the children in their own dialect when she observed that they did not understand French; and the loosening of the man’s tongue is reflected in the surprising responses these uneducated children gave under interrogation.
In fact, “Ephphatha! Be opened!” is central to the La Salette message. The Blessed Virgin came to open people’s eyes to the reality of sin and suffering, their ears to the Word of God, their minds and imagination to new possibilities.
Above all, she wanted to open their hearts to the love of God manifested in the crucified Christ and the Eucharist. This reflects the first line of the Responsorial Psalm: “The God of Jacob keeps faith forever.”
La Salette is an invitation to keep faith with the Lord who “comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you.” We respond with prayer and respect. Inevitably this will also mean keeping faith with others, whether through reconciliation as needed, or by reaching out to others in their need, whether physical or spiritual.
Mary’s message about keeping faith is timeless and relevant to all ages, groups, and to all her people..
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.