23rd Sunday Ordinary Time B

The eyes of the blind…. opened

Back in the 1940’s the newspapers carried the story of a boy who was born blind. He was a lively and imaginative child, full of interest in everything around him. Unfortunately, since he could not see the world in which he lived, he could only guess what things were like from their shape and texture as he felt it or their sound as he heard it. When they were too far away to be felt or smelt or listened to, he would have to guess at what they looked like.

Then his parents asked a certain eye surgeon whether an operation could remedy the blindness of their cheerful but sightless son. The doctor said he thought it was now possible to perform surgery that would make him able finally to see.

On the day scheduled for the operation, his folks drove the lad to the hospital in the family car. The father and mother hoped the doctor was right. Still they were torn by the inner, unexpressed question, “What if the operation fails?” Maybe their little son had the same inner fear, but his strongest emotion that day was a joyful hope.

In the operating room the surgeon set deftly about his work. Then he bandaged the child’s eyes until they healed. Finally, the crucial day of the “unveiling” came. The doctor sat the boy by a window that looked out on the hospital parking lot and the green landscaped lawn beyond. He unrolled the bandage down to the gauze pads and set it on the table. Then he took the pads carefully off the closed eyes. Finally he said, “Now, open your eyes.”

The little boy opened his eyes and looked straight ahead of him. He blinked a couple of times, but said nothing. Those seconds were like years to those present, and the father and mother were almost frantic. Then a smile spread across the lad’s face. “There’s the car I came in,” he exclaimed. “I know it! And there’s a tree. Oh, it’s beautiful! It’s beautiful!”

“The eyes of the blind had been opened.”(Isaiah 35:5. Today’s first reading). Do we who have always seen God’s trees and His other wonderful creatures really appreciate the beautiful things He has given us for our delight?

-Father Robert F. McNamara

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Q544: How do these readings about miracles impact me today?

Look for two things (out of many) in today’s readings. First of all, the readings speak to us of a New creation. Just as God breathed new life into the nostrils of Adam upon his creation, so Jesus now restores the fullness of life to a deaf man who also has a speech problem (Mark 7:31-37; Isaiah 35:4-7). In Christ, all things are made new! Secondly, the gospel challenges us to see and hear and acknowledge the life-giving presence of Jesus everywhere around us, but especially in his words preserved as Holy Scripture.

In Mark’s gospel Jesus is constantly urging his audience to listen at a deeper level. As he teaches us just a little before today’s passage, “Hear me, all of you, and understand” (Mark 7:14). So in Mark’s gospel, the man being healed of a hearing problem would symbolize all of us, and challenge us to really listen to Jesus and his message. In his message and in his actions, he is revealing his own true divine identity as the Son of God.

All of creation speaks to us of God and clearly shows his fingerprint. Taking time to really see God’s presence ought to lead us respond with awe and grateful praise. But the message of Jesus is even more important, because it is there that we find the inspired words that are so life-giving. We truly need to pause and ponder his words, because a simple reading without reflection is practically useless. In fact, it is an insult to God when we just move right along without proper acknowledgement and thanksgiving, after hearing the words of eternal life that he has just spoken to us.

Right now would be a good time to consider adopting or renewing a resolution to spend just five or ten minutes every single day, pondering the words of the daily mass readings (available at the US bishops’ website). Do you think your relationship with your Savior is worth listening to his message five minutes every day? Think before you respond.

KNOW YOUR CATECHISM! Today Christ continues to touch us and heal us in the Sacraments – visible signs of invisible grace (CCC #1504). Have faith, and trust in our Savior’s words and actions.

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Ephphatha Be Opened

The prophet Isaiah told the Israelites that the coming of God’s kingdom would be marked by great miracles and signs: “the eyes of the blind will see…the ears of the deaf will be opened…” Today we see Jesus preaching the coming of that kingdom not only in words but in his actions. He cures the deaf man but tells him to tell no one! He doesn’t want to be seen just as a wonder worker, a media personality. He wants people to listen to his message and to act on it. As St. James told us last week, “be doers of the word and not just hearers…” In today’s reading he shows what that means in a very practical way. So too when Jesus comes into our midst in the Eucharist, he wants our ears to be opened to his commands, to be doers as well as listeners.

Lord, open my eyes to see as you see, open my ears to hear your words, and give me the strength to follow your path and be your instrument in securing justice for the oppressed and food for the hungry.

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