“Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!”
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Once a gentleman wrote to me complaining about his pastor. He said that the pastor spoke about Scripture in his homily and that Scripture is not relevant to today’s living. Scripture is the living Word of God; it is our breath if we are open to listening. It is our eyes if we are open to see. It is the touch of Christ if we are willing to understand. It is our very being if only we would be opened.
The Word of Scripture we hear proclaimed on the Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time seems very relevant to me as we live our daily lives and know the difficulties within our personal situations, and also across the world. Isaiah tells us to be strong, fear not. God comes with divine recompense. He comes to us with God-given mercy. St. Paul reminds us of our place within God’s Kingdom; that the clothes of our body do not portray the inner spirituality of our being. We are called by God to show no partiality as we adhere to the faith. Finally, Jesus himself tells us to be opened! God asks us to open ourselves to the transformations that God desires to accomplish in us, for us, and through us.
Jesus came to recreate us. When we live in His Spirit, we transcend our daily life and become rich in divine love. This divine love is the great light of God we shine on the world!
How many of us are anxious about the things we have experienced during this pandemic? How many of us are anxious about what we hear on the news about our brothers and sisters in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Afghanistan, India, within our own country, on our own street, within our household? God says to be opened. Take His breath and pray. Open our heart to Him through the Eucharist and multiply the bread we received in our small corner of God’s earth. Receiving the Eucharist means that you are taking God in.
When we take God in, something happens within us. We begin to see as God sees and hear as God hears. We do not show partiality because we are all made by God. We do not divide the world into those who think like us and those who do not or those who are vaccinated and those who are not or those who pray like us and those who do not. Each human person is precious. Everyone is created in the divine image and likeness. We already have heaven on earth because of this beauty. Yet we discard it because we are not opened. When we see with God’s eyes and hear with God’s ears, we experience a love so divine that we are in awe. This sacramental love can only lead us to shine God’s blessing wherever we go.
There are no ‘buts’ in God’s Kingdom. There is no ‘Yes, I’ll take God here, but not there.’ The true transformation is one that is ‘all in’. During the celebration of Mass, we pray, “The Lord be with you. And with your spirit.” Greetings like this were used by the Hebrews and early Christians to address those whom God called to an important but daunting mission. They needed the Lord to be with them as they set out on their charge to serve God. There is no division in our prayer; we pray for each one of us present and those who are not present. When we are opened, our prayer naturally includes those who differ from us—those whose language is different and speak with accents; those who are infirm; those whose financial situation is difficult; those whose skin is a different color; those whose mental ability is a special gift.
Pope Francis tells us to look to Mary, Mother of God, who completely “opened” herself to the Lord’s love, who shows us how to live in communion with God and with our brothers and sisters. He said being opened means opening ourselves to the needs of our brothers and sisters who are suffering and in need of help. He said, “It is precisely the heart, that is the deep core of the person, that Jesus came to ‘open’, to free, in order to make us capable of fully living the relationship with God and with others.” Jesus came to speak the language of love that we might learn it, transforming it into gestures of generosity and self-giving.
At the Institution of the Holy Eucharist, Jesus turned to each one of those gathered at the table and said, “This is my body.” He knew them. He loved each one. He called them His body. He calls us to be the same.
May we be opened!