NO DISTINCTION OF PEOPLE
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
I just want to recall the most quoted passage of Prophet Isaiah when he said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways” (Is. 55:8-9). This is how the mind of God works. This is the wisdom of our God. We do not know the mind of God. Sometimes we people like to challenge the ways of God. We want to assert our own ways.
I say this in connection with the second reading of this Sunday taken from the letter of St. James (2:1-5). St. James speaks about not making distinctions of people, not to follow certain `standards` in dealing with others, not to follow our ways and our thoughts in our behaviour. Our own ways are really different from those of God. Because our thoughts and ways are self-serving, self-pleasing. St. James said, “do not try to combine faith in Christ with the making of distinctions between classes of people” (2:1). These `distinctions` of people are a very common habit for us. We are living in a society where there is always distinctions among the groups of people, depending on the economic status, education, physical abilities. This is inevitable because our human minds are conditioned by the norms and culture of the place where we live. And this is disheartening in one way or another. It is because not all the people in society are born with the same status or education. Those who are privileged are lucky. But those who are less privileged are to be pitied. As a matter of fact, most readings of the Gospels talk about people with physical disabilities – the blind, the deaf, the crippled, the dumb and people who are economically poor. In our society today these people have become marginalized. They are different from business people, educated people, those with stable income, those physically sound. As for marginalized people, the Gospel – the Word of God - is intended for them. Prophet Isaiah, in the first reading, promises them salvation; to all those with physical disabilities promises healing and a new life. St. James says that “it was the poor according to the world that God chose, those who are rich in faith and will be heirs to the kingdom, which he promised to those who love him” (2:4-5). It is in them that the light of God shines forth. St. James reminds us in our present time that as a people and more so as Christians, we should avoid making distinctions, discriminations and yielding to favouritism. It is because of this mind conditioning of making distinctions that our life status is made unequal. It makes good relationships impossible. It makes the world plagued with many unresolved issues of conflicts and violence. God wants all of us to be joyful. Jesus wants us to be fulfilled and contented as he always emphasized in his parables and narratives. If we understand well that avoiding distinctions and discriminations of people is good news, then we ought to proclaim it and practise it in our daily life.