Reflection for Sunday, September 10, 2000: 23rd week in Ordinary Time.

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Gillick, Larry, S.J.
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The liturgy opens today with a reading from Isaiah which sound more like an Advent Reading. When the Lord comes things will be reversed; deserts will be made into pools and streams, and the lame will leap. The natural things will experience a new creation once more.|This prophesy also speaks of the hearing-impaired being able to receive sounds once more and those whose voice is silenced will be blest again to talk with voice-words. All kinds of reversals will happen when the Lord does come and behold "Here is your God, He comes with vindication ... He comes to save you."|The Gospel is a simple, but dramatic picture of Jesus' being "he Who comes." At the end of the story, people say "He has done all things well." He does all things well to fulfill the prophesies of Isaiah. He frees a person from what can appear to be a natural curse or unblessing. Jesus commands "be opened." The persons ears and tongue are freed and so are the hearts and minds of those who themselves are open.|Those of us who can both hear and speak well and have good vision might wonder which would be worse to lose, hearing, speaking or seeing. If you were to ask a person who has one of these faculties impaired which one they would choose, if they had a choice, I think they would choose the one they have. The person who is blind would be very glad she or he can hear. The hearing-impaired person would be very glad he or she can see.|The challenge of today's readings has to do with being "opened" by the touch of Jesus to our using the faculties we have been given. Jesus came in fulfillment of Isaiah who also wrote, "say to those whose hearts are frightened; be strong, fear not." Physical healings for Jesus are less important than bringing a recreated faith and a trusting courage.|When concluding an infant Baptism, I personally love the little ceremony of blessing the ears and mouth of the newly baptized little person. Those tiny earflaps are going to gather in many sounds in the ears to come and that little slippery mouth with a conveniently placed pacifier will soon be making audible offerings too. The Church prays "ephphatha." Be opened. The parents usually, but silently, say, "please be opened, but not all night!"|I personally bless the little eyes as well that they too might be opened soon to take in the visible invitations to respond to the sender of life and all good things. I silently pray that the little Christian heart and the hearts and minds of the parents and community will also continue the process of being "opened." Would you rather be blind or hearing-impaired? The truth is we are both a bit and often, too frightened to speak. We see things the way we want things to be; we hear only those things, which confirm us, and we speak the usual self-serving stuff. Now not always, some times we are "opened," but He has come to give us new unfrightened ears and voices, which can loudly speak for the voiceless.|This being "opened" is Jesus' main task while on earth and since His resurrection. Physical blindness or loss of hearing is not the issue of today's liturgy. Being closed to the ways of God, refusing to see beyond our selfish expectations and demands, resisting the speaking of truth and comfort; these are the areas Jesus came to touch, bless and employ.|Would you rather be blind or hearing-impaired? Yes, this is an interesting question, but not for today's liturgy. Rather, be a Christian who hears and sees beyond the physical to the sacramental presence of the Word and is "opened" to becoming a part of that Word which gives voice to the God Who never is silent. The physically blind may be very glad they can hear and the hearing-impaired may be very glad they can see. We who both see and hear Him in the Eucharistic celebration are very glad we are in the continual process of becoming "opened" more both receiving and revealing the One Who is always in the process of.|"He does all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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