I. Homily – 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – September 6, 2015
II. Pope Francis asked Gloria to sing for him. She was 17 year old woman attending Cristo Rey High School in the city. She had suffered bullying earlier in her life for a skin condition affecting the way she looked, but she loved to sing and to sing in church…so the Pope asked if she would honor him by singing a song. So…she did…Gloria sang for the Pope. If you watched the TV interview with the Pope, you already know all this…and you know there was not a dry eye in the house.
A. The Pope acknowledged that the song she sang rejoiced in the loving embrace and constant help of the Blessed Mother and her Son.
B. But, then, she had the opportunity to ask a question of the Holy Father so she asked the Pope what he wanted from young people? What should young people do today?
C. The pope responded that he did not want them to be alone. Although the Pope’s answer is a beautiful one, it also implies that we, you and I, have at least some ability to decide not to be alone…that aloneness is not something that is foist upon us…but something that we can change.
III. Although the man born deaf and with a speech impediment lived in a silent world in which he was not able clearly to communicate with others, he was not alone.
A. A crowd of people brought him to the Lord and begged Jesus to cure the man.
B. However, this was not the only way that the man was not alone…there was a presence which was even more important…
1. The truth is not that the crowd begged Jesus to cure the man…no…Saint Mark tells us that the crowd “begged Jesus to lay His hand on the man.”
2. Our Lord did just that…Jesus physically took the man away from the crowd…I imagined our Lord placing His arm around the man and walking a away from the crowd…but our Lord not only took the man away from the crowd, he also placed his fingers in the man’s ears and touched his tongue.
3. Notice: Jesus does not perform a magic trick…He is not making a show…on the contrary…Jesus took lengths to make sure no one saw what He was doing…NO!…the point here is that Jesus miracle is not to make a show but to love the man. Jesus loved Him in the concrete.
C. We may think the story ends here…the man is cured and everyone spoke well of Jesus…However, there is something else to note here…the man is not the only one who is not alone…the crowd is certainly not alone…but…did you notice it…Jesus Christ was also not alone…Jesus does not alone and there is a clear indication of this in the Gospel passage:
1. Before Jesus cures the man, He “looked up to heaven.”
2. As Jesus was about to cure the man who was deaf and mute, He looked up to heaven…the reason why He took the man away from the crowd becomes even more clear…
3. It seems like such a simple gesture…we would miss it, if we did not pay close attention…we are so transfixed by the amazing story of the man cured that we might fail to recognize the importance of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, “looking up to heaven.”
4. You see, Jesus Christ is also not alone…this glance to heaven reminds us that He is the second person of the Holy Trinity…, His Father and the Holy Spirit are also there and they are one…in fact, the Church teaches that when one person of the Holy Trinity acts “ad extra,” i.e., in the world, then all three act…it is not only Christ curing but also the Father and the Holy Spirit.
5. We see this all through our liturgy…the prayers of our liturgy are directed to the Father, through the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit…
IV. The man, then, is not receiving simply the love of a man…He is receiving in a concrete, tangible and real way the love of Almighty God.
A. Our Lord performs this miraculous cure demonstrating His physical presence in touching the man and uttering the groan, “Ephphatha,” as the power goes out from Him…but, it is the divine presence that effects the cure.
B. Where else, in our lives, do we receive such a concrete experience of the divine love?
1. Adrienne von Speyr makes the connection between the body of our Lord touching the man born deaf communicating the divine presence and the Most Holy Eucharist which we truly and physically receive communicating Jesus Christ, body, blood, soul and divinity.
2. We have the entire mystery here in this passage of scripture:
a) The crowd bringing the man who cannot hear and cannot speak clearly.
b) Jesus Christ truly loving the man in His human and divine nature.
c) The man himself allowing his ears to be opened and his mouth to proclaim the praise of God.
3. The importance of the love of the crowd is not in doubt; however, Christ’s love for the man is not limited to the action of the crowd…the crowd brings the man to Christ, but Christ’s goes beyond it.
V. There is one last point regarding the crowd: It is interesting, isn’t it, that no word of the cured man is recorded.
A. Although the Lord tells THEM to tell no one and although THEY go about proclaiming it to all they meet and although the evangelist informs us that the man could speak clearly, Saint Mark does not tell us what it was that the man said.
B. No…it is as if the proclamation of the Gospel…as if the man’s words are now proclaimed by the crowd…it is not just one voice speaking but a multitude…but it is not a multitude of voices but Christ’s voice in them.
C. This is where we come into the story…the story of the crowd does not end with that crowd of 2000 years ago…it is also this crowd right here, right now.
VI. What would happen…what kind of world would we have…what kind of community…if our words were the words of Christ?
A. What if every voice and every physical action of our proclaimed the truth that “Christ does all things well?”
B. First, we know that we are not alone…we are never alone, but there are concrete moments when Christ touches us…in fact, unites Himself with us…these are the sacraments especially the Eucharist.
C. Second, there are times when we open our ears and open our mouths to acknowledge this union and seek to deepen it, this is our prayer.
D. Third, we become the crowd who brings others who cannot hear and find it difficult to speak begging our Lord to “lay His hands on them.”
VII. The Holy Father, following our Lord’s example, made it very clear what He meant by his exhortation that young people not be alone in their lives…He told Gloria to allow Christ and the Blessed Mother to embrace her always.
A. When we listen and know that Christ and His mother are always there embracing us and truly loving us, the fear dissipates and we cannot help but speak.
B. If we believe this, then we cannot remain deaf to Christ word nor mute in proclaiming it.
1. Are we the crowd that brings one who cannot hear to the Lord? Or are we the one who retreats, stays to the rear and remains silent?
2. This is the difference in our Catholic faith…we speak not because there is a word to proclaim but because Christ has truly and concretely come to dwell within us through the Sacraments…we have heard His word and we have received Him who touched the man’s ears and tongue so that He might speak.
3. Catholicism is the faith of the real and the concrete united with the divine.
VIII. We are not alone just because we remember. We are not alone, because Christ is here…Christ is the one who dissipates our fear and motivates our love.
I. Homily – 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – September 6, 2015