Vol: 42, No.49 23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME ( B) September 06 2015  

St Thomas Aquinas is one of the greatest intellectuals in the history of Christianity. He synthesized Greek philosophy, Arabic science, and Jewish wisdom with twelve centuries of Christian tradition. Towards the end of his life he came out of a chapel badly shaken. He told his brothers to burn his books because they were as straw compared to what Jesus had just revealed to him. Fortunately we still have his writings which communicate God’s love and presence in the world. But still Thomas’ vision teaches us a great truth. Like the deaf in today’s gospel, we want to hear from Jesus directly, Ephphatha, that is, “Be Opened.”
In today’s first reading Isaiah tells us, “Be strong, fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” God is ever present with us. We read in the book of Revelation: “Look, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my call and opens the door, I will come in to him and have supper with him, and he with me” (3:20). Jesus knocks on our doors with a view to be with us and dine with us. His dining with us is not a mere partaking in any meal, but he becomes our meal that opens up to the unique privilege of experiencing and possessing eternal life. The deaf man who was brought to Jesus experienced not only the cure from his impediment, but also a new vision of life. In the healing of the deaf man, it was not only just his faith, but the people who carried him also equally believed that Jesus could restore the deaf man’s hearing. True faith has to express itself and it helps others to believe in Jesus.
Unlike in the other miracles, the miracle of healing the deaf man was unique. When he was brought to Jesus, he took him privately aside, put his fingers into his ears and used his spittle to touch his tongue. One wonders why Jesus took so much trouble when he


could have done the healing by saying just a word. We have a personal God who knows us by our name and we belong to him. Jesus did not perform a miracle to showcase it to the public, nor did he do it to show his might and power, nor did he do it to gain human approval, recognition or applause. He did it to save God’s people from their limitations and bring them to a new life of liberation. Jesus opened the ears, loosened the tongue and opened the deaf man to a world of new possibilities and opportunities that allowed him to sing and praise God with his own voice which the Lord had restored to him.
The first ever word that the deaf man heard was Ephphatha, and what a moment this would have been in his life. To have heard that first word from Jesus himself who alone can open us to hear the voice of God, would lead us to a new life of faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus does not limit his actions to a particular person, time or place but he extends his offer of liberation to all the children of God of all times. He wants to open each one of us to his grace and make us the children of God. He wants to offer us a new horizon of meaning, existence and purpose. Like the deaf man, we also should desire to come to Jesus and allow him to open us. If we come to Jesus in faith, we too shall hear the word that he spoke to the deaf man: Ephphatha.
Like in the case of Thomas Aquinas, every-thing that one has done and accomplished, however great or precious that might have been, becomes useless compared to the presence of God and his activity in one’s life. For God, we are precious not because of our accomplishments or abilities but because we are his beloved children ready and willing to listen to his voice and open up ourselves to him to be liberated and saved.

– Fr Johnson Vattakkunnel, SSP
September 2015 READINGS OF THE WEEK Psalter Week 3
07 Mon (G) Col 1: 24 –23/ Ps 62:6-7,9/ Lk 6:6-11
08 Tue (w) Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Feast
Mic 5:1-4 or Rom 8:8-30/ Ps 13:6-7/ Mt 1:1-16,18-23
09 Wed (G) St Peter Claver, Col 3:1-11/ Ps 145:2-3,10-13/ Lk 6:20-26
10 Thu (G) Col 3:12-17/ Ps 150:1-6/ Lk 6:27-38
11 Fri (G) 1 Tim 1:1-2,12-14/ Ps 16:1-2,5,7-8,11/ Lk 6:39-42
12 Sat (W) Holy Name of Mary, 1 Tim 1:15-17/ Ps 113:1-7/ Lk 6:43-49
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