Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Ordinary Time Sunday 23

Readings for Today

Ephaphtha, Jesus said, be opened

We have a problem with miracles stories, because the first thing we think when we hear them is 'how is this possible'? The sceptical modern mind looks for explanations, methods. We never even get off the blocks in understanding the tale.

We are, of course, asking the wrong question. For an ancient people, for whom the world was still a wonderful and mysterious place, miracles were part of the fabric. They would not ask 'how' because they knew how, by the power of God. They knew the story is not some trick or puzzle to be worked out. They knew the right question to ask: not how is it done? but what does it mean?

What can it mean? Mark makes this very clear to, by giving us not only the sense of what Jesus said, but the actual word, as uttered by the Lord. Ephaphtha. Open up!

So often we close ourselves off to God. We resist his will. We avoid his claims on our lives. We skirt round or steer clear of what challenges the Gospel presents to us. It is not that we are wilful, wicked people. It's just that we prefer to keep something back. We go so far. But only so far. We know that we should be generous, but we cannot be sacrificial. We try to be curteous and tolerant, but we find it hard, so hard, to love our enemies. We like our home comforts, not just the physical, material ones, but also our spiritual comforts and security. Our hearts remain closed.

Open up! Ephaphtha! Jesus calls us to cast off our fears and anxieties, to allow his grace to enter us, to be filled with the love of his most Sacred Heart, to put our own comfort second and the promptings and pushings of his grace first. He calls us not to resist what we know to be right. He charges us not to relax in the security of habit and inaction but to embrace his will.

Courage! Do not be afraid! are the words of Isaiah which begin the first reading. Words with which John Paul II begin his papacy. Words which challenge us now. We need courage not to venture into the unknown, but in order to see clearly what we truly know. We need to open our hearts to hear his heart speaking to us.

Open up! Ephaphtha! Courage! Do not be afraid! For the Lord your God is coming. He is coming to save you!

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