Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Commentary for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time by Sr. Susan Marie Lindstrom, OSB

All 3 readings for this Sunday speak of the awesome power of a healing, saving God.
Isaiah urges frightened hearts to be strong and fearless, that the God who comes to save will give sight to the blind and song to the mute.

James reminds his listeners that God chose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith
In the gospel, we see both of these ideas come together. As Jesus travels through the Decapolis, he is among a mixed group of people, Jews and Gentiles. Unlike many stories where the infirmed person requests the healing, in this story it is the townspeople who ask Jesus to lay hands on a deaf man. We do not know if these people had witnessed other miracles, but they obviously knew of Jesus’ reputation. They trusted and believed that Jesus could, in fact, restore the man to health and wholeness, to full participation in their community.

We know from our own community’s experiences that one who has hearing problems also struggles amidst the noise of a large crowd. Jesus takes the man away from the crowd. When his hearing is restored, the first sound he hears is the voice of God… clear, distinct, speaking just to him. Not only does he hear clearly, but he can once again speak plainly… no distortions, no garble, no hesitation.

Do we take time to move away from the crowd, away from the noise of life to listen to God?
Do we invite God to heal the impediments in our lives?

Jesus speaks just one definitive word in this gospel: “Ephphatha! Be opened!”
We hear a similar directive from Benedict in the first word of the Rule: “Listen”.
To listen is to open not only one’s ears, but one’s eyes and heart that one may hear and speak truth, that one’s speech may be plain and proclaim clearly the amazing love and care of our God.
To be opened is to allow ourselves to be touched and moved by both God and neighbor, to lay down our lives in service to God.
To be opened is to invite God to work in us and through us, in community and in our ministries.

The people who had petitioned Jesus to lay hands on their friend could not be silent. They were compelled to share the wonder of the miracle performed in their midst. Their announcing of Jesus’ actions served as a proclamation of the Kingdom here and yet to come.
Do we allow our lives to proclaim God’s goodness, God’s majesty?
Do OUR words and actions proclaim the presence of a God who comes to restore wholeness and banish fear?
The deaf man was able to discern God’s voice. The crowd could not contain the good news. We, too, are invited to incline our hearts to hear God, and our lives to announce God’s reign.

What is more delightful than this voice of the Lord calling to us? See how the Lord in love shows us the way of life. 21Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see him who has called us to the kingdom

No comments: