Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
A Homily - Cycle B - 2011-2012
by Fr. Luke Dundon

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First Reading - Isaiah 35:4-7a
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 146:7, 8-9, 9-10
Second Reading - James 2:1-5
Gospel - Mark 7:31-37

Mark wrote to explain Christ
to the new Gentile converts.

Again Jesus left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis.  And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him.  He took him off by himself away from the crowd.  He put his finger into the man's ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, Ephphatha! - that is, "Be opened!" - And immediately the man's ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.  He ordered them not to tell anyone.  But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it.  They were exceedingly astonished and they said, "He has done all things well.  He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."

So if Jesus could do it, So can I!!!  Any volunteers?

I'm gonna try this, stick my fingers in someone's ears, and spit on their tongue . . . any volunteers?  Don't leap up all at once!  None?  Well, it does seem crude . . . yet if you were a young boy, you'd probably LEAP at the opportunity to imitate our Lord today!  Today is a young boy's type of Gospel.  And yet, our Lord Himself was once a young boy - playing, learning how to build things from wood, learning how to wash His hands, clean His fingernails, have fun!

Simple, earthy things - yet I think it helps us appreciate better the man we see hanging on the wood - a REAL human being who lived in earthy realities, just like us!

Today Jesus uses very rustic and unsophisticated means to heal - spitting, sticking fingers, groaning!  Not exactly material for Masterpiece Theatre!

And yet - what did it achieve?  AMAZING, SUPERNATURAL things!  Things which the deaf man probably never forgot.  IN an earthy, rustic setting, there is an encounter with Jesus.  In SPIT and EAR-STICKING - we meet a man who heals, who is speaking in Aramaic (only times He does that - as Son of God!). God COMMUNICATES Himself to us in the most down-to-earth realities!  We as His sons and daughters can do so as well.

So it goes in OUR own lives - playing in the sand, spitting into a baseball glove, washing the dishes, giving the dog a bath - EVERYTHING can be an opportunity to encounter God, it is CERTAINLY not outside His power!

And yet it's easy for us to compartmentalize spiritual reality (what's happening here) from everything else out those doors.  Jesus shows us today, it's ALL connected!  He's PRESENT with us, from digging in the garden to flossing our teeth to praying before dinner to praying before the Tabernacle.  If we take time each day to realize how PRESENT HE is, that will transform EVERYTHING in our lives.  No moment will be wasted.  EVERY moment will be an opportunity to meet Him - to walk with Him - to learn from Him - to be healed by Him.

Because He is with us in the simplest ways - - - a pat on the back, a high-five, a handshake - consequently, when we go with the seminarians and youth to visit the homes in our parish boundaries next Saturday, we and the people we visit will have a GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY to encounter Jesus - to HEAR His voice, to see His face.

He has shown us today, He is present in the simplest circumstances - - - even in our Sacraments, we use earthy elements - we're smeared with oil at our Confirmation, we're doused with water at our baptism - - - and we're given food from our offering of Bread and Wine.  Ordinary, earthy things - but from the most ordinary of things, FROM ordinary bread and wine, come the most EXTRAORDINARY of encounters - - - with God Himself.

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