Reflection for Sunday, September 10, 2006: 23rd week in Ordinary Time.

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Gillick, Larry, S.J.
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PRE-PRAYERING | We are always moving, either forward or back, but we are never the same old self. This is true physically as well as spiritually. You are not the same person at this moment as you were entering the liturgical community last week or yesterday. It is our belief that God's grace accompanies us in and through these growings or changings.|God's existence stays the same of course, but exactly how God meets us, that changes according to how that grace finds us. We pray with this confidence that we are growing more deeply in trusting, forgiving, and in availability to God's grace and God's family. As we make our way toward the Eucharistic Table to be met again there, we can pray with the many events of God's particular urging, tugging, and comforting us in our growing up and branching out.| REFLECTION |Perhaps you have wondered at times that of the two, blindness or deafness, which one would you rather not have. Impediments are literally those things which get in the way of the feet, from the Latin word pedes meaning "foot". Freedom of movement is so important for us and being restricted a terrible fear. Both those who are visually impeded and those who have hearing loss seem to get along, get around, get moving, and become free if they do not allow regret or anger to be even more a greater impediment.|Our First Reading at the Eucharist is the end of a poem written for the Jewish people in their exile. This passage is usually read during Advent as we wait for the coming of the New Life in Christ. There are wonderful images of the apparently impossible happening in the physical world. There will be pools and rivers in the desert, but even more amazing will be the return of sight to the blind and ability to hear for those who have been deprived of that sense.|The prophet Isaiah prefaces these signs of hope with words of great comfort for those in exile. God is coming to save them, bring them out and will bless them. They are called to believe these words and their faith will be responded to by God's bringing them back to their land of faith where they will again hear and see the goodness of God.|In today's Gospel, Mark gives us a tender picture of Jesus' healing a man from his impediment of hearing. Earlier in this chapter Jesus has asked the people to listen to him. As we heard last week in the verses from the beginning of this chapter, Jesus has invited the Pharisees and scribes to listen to His new teachings about what is clean and unclean. The chapter ends with Jesus highlighting their being deaf by healing a man who has been deprived of hearing. The Pharisees are confronted openly about their eyes and ears being closed.|The people who witness this miracle say that Jesus has done all things well, meaning that He has been fulfilling the dictates or expectations of the prophets very well. The deaf hear and the mute now speak. Their excitement moves them to begin proclaiming Jesus as the fulfillment of the Hebrew Scriptures. He has ordered them not to spread the news. Jesus wishes to personally offer the option of faith through His individual ministries. Later, after the Resurrection, there will be the proclamation-time. The good news has to be shared and so the witnesses begin spreading the Good News.|The writers of the Gospels use physical healings both to highlight the saving power of Jesus, and the need which we have for the more important interior healing. The faithful Jewish leaders had heard and received their religious heritage and desired others to hear it in their turn and live it as faithfully. They do not want to hear anything as new and radically different such as Jesus is offering. Their traditions of purification were sacred to them and Jesus has been speaking to them of the inner-self purification which He offers. They believe Him to be in violation of their sacred teachings and traditions. Jesus has to say what is His interior call to be the Christ. He heals one person from not being able to hear in hope that the Pharisees might be more "open" to hear what's new.|We suspect the new, the different and we resist having our own personal and communal ways tampered with or changed. When we ask, "What's new?", we are really asking, "Is there anything which is going to interrupt my thoughts, feelings, and or actions?" While writing this I am trying not to hear the doorbell and phones ringing. I am hoping to hear somebody else answering. I want to get this finished; I have my plans which are very important. I have my ways and I don't want any intruder.|C.S. Lewis once wrote that the most emphatic noise is the one we are trying not to hear. Jesus says, "Be open". I say, "Later". I love hearing the words of Jesus when I think He has a good idea to which I can agree. I pray "later" with those things He says which I know are emphatic, important and intrusive. Not only do I have to pray to hear them, but pray with why I don't want to hear. Being open to His words and ways means my being open to the attitudinal rearranging inside me and a changing of behaviors consequent to that rearranging. Ah, good somebody answered the phone!|"Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, you my God. My soul is thirsting for the living God." Ps. 42, 2-3
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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