BE STRONG AND FEAR NOT

Homily.  September 9, 2018. 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

The miracle story of the healing of the deaf and mute man appears only in Mark’s Gospel but is often commemorated by the Church in the celebration of baptism.  The priest or deacon touches the ears and mouth of the one being baptized and prays:  ‘The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the mute speak.  May he soon touch your ears to receive his word, and your mouth to proclaim his faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father.’.
This healing and these words bring home to us that Jesus came not as a political messiah but as a religious messiah in the tradition of the prophets.  What God wants from us first of all is that we open our ears to hear the word of God.  When you observe all the violence in the world, the disregard for the sacredness of human life, the abuse of the human person and children, the lies, the cheating, the dishonesty and corruption, the greed for power and wealth, the name calling and slander, we have to ask ourselves:  are we listening?  Are we listening to the commandments of God?  Are we listening to the teachings of Jesus?  We must begin with ourselves and within the Church before we can ask the world to look within itself.
Secondly, are we speaking and living with faith?  We proclaim our faith by how we speak and by how we act.  I am not talking about pious words or pious actions but rather about truthful, respectful and honest words and deeds.  The greatest witness of our faith is by how we care for the poor and vulnerable and for those who need our love and attention. Again we must begin with ourselves and in the Church before we can ask the world to do so.
It was not some act of magic that cured the deaf man.  It was the power of God conveyed through Jesus His Son when He spoke the word ephphatha – be opened.  It is the power of God that opens our hears to listen and touches our lips to speak as believers.  People who do not listen are enslaved in their own self centeredness; people who do not speak with conviction and truth are  afraid.  This miracle of Jesus symbolizes the freedom that is given to us when we have confidence in God.
Isaiah the prophet says to us:  “Be strong, fear not.”
May God open our ears and  touch our lips, not only as individuals, but also as a Church to listen carefully to the voice of God and to speak with courage and forthrightness in faith what is the just and right thing to do.
Our deeds validate our words to the praise and glory of God.

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