Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, September 5
In Our Life of Faith, in the Selfless Love Which Christ Is Asking Us to Share with All of His Children, May We Do “all things well”, Always Remaining Open to God’s Spirit of Love and Truth.
We hear in the Gospel message today the word “‘Ephphatha!’ – that is, ‘Be opened!’ – And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.” And all who witnessed this event exclaimed “He has done all things well.”
Ephphatha (EHF-uh-thuh), an Aramaic word which means “Be opened” – an expression which carries with it so many different meanings, so many different implications in our life of faith.
Within the Baptismal Rite, there is an element called the “rite of Ephphatha”. In this rite, we hear the minister of Baptism pray the words, “The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the dumb speak. May He touch your ears to receive His word, and your mouth to proclaim His faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father.”
In other words, it is in Baptism that we are first commissioned to hear God’s word and proclaim God’s deeds. We have been given, as for the first time, a voice which we are to raise to the praise and glory of God the Father. It is in Baptism that we are, for the first time, configured to Jesus Christ – to His Death and to His Resurrection.
We have become children of God, cleansed and anointed as His adopted children, so that, through the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we may, one day, become disciples of the Eternal Word made flesh – so that, one day, we may become the extension of His voice, so that we may become living examples of His Heart, reaching out to a world which seems empty and void of love, mercy and compassion.
In order for you and I to truly live what it means to “be opened”, in order for us to be true disciples of Jesus Christ in our world around us, we must, as Saint James tells us today in his Letter, “…show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.”
In other words, we must wear our faith in such a way so that the words we speak and the actions we exhibit will become our witness to what the compassion, love, mercy and understanding of Jesus Christ is truly all about. Each one of us is called to live our lives in such a way so that we may truly give witness to what it means to be Christian in a very hostile and pagan world.
On the 11th of September of each year, we remember the horrific events which took place in 2001. We remember the thousands who died on that morning as a result of terroristic attacks upon the United States, and the thousands who suffered in the grief they experienced over the death of their loved ones.
We also remember the courageous few who gave their lives selflessly on that day of infamy so that many others might be spared when they forced United Flight 93 to crash in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, thereby avoiding further destruction in Washington, DC, which was the terrorist’s ultimate target.
You and I are each asked to be courageous in the living of our lives and our faith in a world, in a society and culture which seems to embrace ideas of self-centeredness, greed, immorality, selfishness and godless behavior. As Christians, and by virtue of our Baptism into the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are each asked to live and love selflessly, to live and love courageously.
We are each asked to empty from ourselves all that would separate us from Christ, so that we may live the “rite of Ephphatha” in our daily lives, so that we may be truly opened to all that God is asking of us for the sake of His Kingdom here on Earth!
Becoming Christ-like in a world which seems to embrace darkness is not easy. Being an extension of Christ in a society which desires to erase any mention of God from the workplace, from our schools, from our courtrooms and even from the political arena may appear as an overwhelmingly difficult task.
But as our psalmist tells us in today’s Responsorial Psalm, “The God of Jacob keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry.”
And that food which sustains us, that food which feeds and nourishes us is the Bread of Life Himself. The Source and Summit of our life of faith, from which all the other Sacraments and ecclesial ministries flow, and to which all the other Sacraments and ministries lead us, is the food which strengthens us in our day-to-day life as a Christian people!
It is this Sacred Food which allows us to fulfill the “rite of Ephphatha” in a very real way in our pilgrimage through life, for it becomes our “daily bread” which strengthens us to proclaim our faith. It becomes our “daily bread” which nourishes and sustains us in the witness we give to that faith in Jesus Christ which we hold so dear to our hearts.
When received faithfully, it is a Sacrament which does not allow us to turn a deaf ear or a blind eye to all those who are less fortunate than ourselves. It is this august and most majestic Sacrament which strengthens and guides us to become Christ-like in our compassion and love, mercy and understanding, in our every thought, word and deed, when reaching out to the truly hungry – whether their hunger be physical, emotional or spiritual.
And when we become the servant Christ, the ministering, loving and compassionate Christ to our fellow brothers and sisters, regardless of their race, creed, color, religious persuasion or political affiliation, then we may hear people say about us as they said about Christ, “He has done all things well.”
Something truly remarkable happened after that fateful day on September 11th, 2001. Regardless of what faith one practiced or did not practice, people came flooding back to their respective churches, seeking help and guidance, searching for an understanding of what happened and why, and will it happen again.
People came to the House of God because they were afraid. People came to pray. People came because something had been taken away from them, and they felt that the only one who could help remove their fear and return their sense of security and peace was God.
Granted, this reawakening of faith did not last long. But you and I are each called to be Christ in this world which needs to be reawakened once again. But this time, the reawakening which He calls us to offer is one of selfless love and mercy in our daily lives. This time, the reawakening to which each of us is called is a selfless giving of ourselves to one another – to our family members, to our neighbors, to the person on the street who is homeless, who is hungry, who is sick, who is filled with loneliness.
As we hear today, Jesus comes to fulfill the words of hope from the prophet Isaiah, “Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you.”
You and I are both called to remember that, while the world has turned to violence and hatred, we are called to be a people of peace, patterning our lives after the One who came to make the deaf hear and the mute speak. We are called to be a people whose greatest commandment is to love God and to love one another; because, in that love, we find the Peace and Love of Christ.
In our life of faith, in the selfless love which Christ is asking us to share with all of His children, may you and I do “all things well”. May you and I always remain opened to God’s Spirit of Love and Truth who will enlighten and guide us on our life’s journey on this side of the eternal.
Jesus says to both you and me today, “Ephphatha!”
May each of us always be opened to God’s will for us in our daily lives, so that we may one day hear our Lord say to us at the end of our pilgrimage, “Well done, my good and faithful servant…Come, share your master’s joy.”
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “Then [Jesus] looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’ – that is, ‘Be opened!’ – And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.” (Mark 7:34-35)
- “They were exceedingly astonished and they said, ‘He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.’” (Mark 7:37)
- “Blessed the one…whose hope is in the LORD, his God…Who keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, who gives bread to the hungry.” (Psalm 146:5, 6c-7b)
- “Say to the fearful of heart: Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; With divine recompense he comes to save you.” (Isaiah 35:4)
- “Near indeed is his salvation for those who fear him; glory will dwell in our land. Love and truth will meet; justice and peace will kiss. Truth will spring from the earth; justice will look down from heaven.” (Psalm 85:10-12)
- “My brothers, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.” (James 2:1)
- “In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will.” (Ephesians 1:4b-5)
- “So, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in him, rooted in him and built upon him and established in the faith as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6-7)
- “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely; In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
- “Well done, my good and faithful servant…Come, share your master’s joy.” (Matthew 25:21ac)
Prayer for the Day
“Our Eternal and Most Loving Father in Heaven,Anonymous
may everything I do begin with Your inspiration,
continue with Your saving help,
and reach perfection under Your guidance.
“With Your Loving Care, guide me in my daily actions,
and help me to persevere with love and sincerity.
Please teach me to judge wisely the things of Earth
and to always love the things of Heaven.
“Your Spirit instilled in my heart that I am Your child,
and I am confident to call You my Father.
Keep me in Your Presence always
and never let me be separated from You.
“Make Your Love and Mercy the foundation of my life;
teach me to long for Heaven as my eternal Home.
May its promise and hope guide my way on Earth
until I finally reach eternal life with You. Amen.”