Here’s my homily for September 6, 2009 – the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings for today’s Mass can be found at http://www.usccb.org/nab/readings/090609.shtml. Thanks for reading and your feedback. God Bless – Fr Jim

I wonder what happened next…. Don’t you? I mean, one moment the guy is deaf and unable to communicate. Jesus spits and touches this guy and he is forever changed. Well at least in the realms of speech and hearing he was forever changed. What did he do with the gift though?
Because no doubt he had wanted this,
longed for this,
dreamed this day would happen

Wondering – what would it be like to hear – to speak. Was he so dumbfounded, so overwhelmed that he couldn’t speak? I doubt I could imagine the excitement – trying to conceive of it, I picture him screaming, jumping up and down in excitement like if I witnessed Yankees just won the World Series AND realized I had just won a Mega-Millions Lotto worth $330 million. Truth be told, he was probably even more excited about this miraculous healing than one would be over those material things.
Imagine it – after this encounter with Jesus – I can hear – I can speak. That’s what sound sounds like. That’s what you sound like… This is amazing! THANK GOD!
But I wonder what happened next.

Did he say to friends the next day “It’s so great, I can hear, I can speak…but it’s weird, I couldn’t sleep last night because I could HEAR everything. But that’s okay, I’m not complaining – even though I’m a bit tired…” Or “Did you see that camel skin jacket that guy was wearing? I might not have been able to hear or talk, but my sight is great and I’ve seen a lot of camel skin jackets and that was the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen!”
Did he hear when popular opinion turned against Jesus. Words that were lies. Words of betrayal. Did he say anything?

I wonder….

The thing is we don’t know. All we know is that this dramatic healing happened. All we know is that Jesus wanted to reach out and reveal to this man in this very personal, very intimate way. He wanted to say to him:
Do you know how much God loves you?
Do you know how much God thinks of you?
Do you know how much God dreams of your perfect joy and fulfillment?
Do you know how much God wants you to be made whole?

Because that’s what this miraculous encounter is all about. And Jesus says words that penetrate his heart and soul. He says to him, “Just so you do know – ‘ EPHATHATHA! BE OPEN’!” That’s the message Jesus was trying to send to the deaf and mute man. He wasn’t trying to simply do some presto-changeo magic act. He wanted Him to know – truly know how much God loves him. Him personally.
And not just him – but all of us. He loves us, thinks of us, dreams of our joy and fulfillment, wants us to be made whole. That’s why Jesus came. That’s why he still comes to us. Which is why those words EPHATHATA BE OPEN are recorded and remembered. As we hear his word proclaimed. As his Body and Blood are made really present in the Eucharist and given to us – Jesus calls to us to Be Open.
To Be Open to His vision for life
To Be Open to His call to radical love
To Be Open to His individual dream for each of us
To Be Open and realize what an incredible, unimaginable gift this is that the creator of the entire universe cares this much about you and me.

While our hearing and speech might be fine… the reality is often times we are deaf and we are muted. We can’t help but get caught up in the noise of the world streaming through our ipods drowning out those essential words. We don’t share those life-changing words out of fear (I don’t want to sound too religious or something…) Heck, if you’re lucky like me, you don’t have an ipod – you have an iphone, which makes it even easier to drown out that voice of Christ with even more distractions (how many apps do you have???) As we put our ear buds in and hum along to the noise that ultimately is unsatisfying, unrelenting and leads us to loneliness, confusion and despair. (It sounds catchy at first…but)

But we’re here. Which is a great thing. And Jesus’s word and his presence here tonight is meant to shake us up a bit. Not simply to look for a miracle – “Jesus, straight A’s this semester would be sweet…” (For some that would be quite the miracle) But to look beyond the miracle and hear that voice calling us to truly hear his Voice – that miraculous touch that makes us able to sing his praises.

Imagine, a paraphrase of this Gospel. St. Mark recounting what he witnessed: Jesus went by way of Montclair State University’s Student Center and met you – someone who was deaf and unable to speak. He took his finger into your ears, and spitting (I know, it sounds gross, but it is Jesus – so it’s heavenly saliva) touched your tongue and said “BE OPEN” – Be open to hear my word proclaimed… Be open to receive my Body and Blood. Be open to the people I’ve sent to share my life and my presence through them…

I wonder what will happen next…