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September 7, 2003

Be Opened!

(Mark 7:31-37)

I planned talk about how God helps the mute to speak, but I’ve just been struck with laryngitis, so God must be trying to tell me something!

This is one of my favorite Gospel stories because it’s the only times where Jesus takes someone aside, away from the crowd and heals them privately, personally, intimately.

In those days, people presumed that any kind of sickness or physical problem meant you were a sinner being punished by God for some sin you or your parents committed. There is probably some part of us that still thinks that way when something bad happens to us. But Jesus doesn’t think that way at all.

The Gospel says that God is active among the poor, the weak, the sick, and the needy, among people like us; that God has not stopped working, that God in Jesus is working among us, healing us, struggling to make us better, trying to free us so we can be happy, healthy, whole and at peace.

So Jesus takes the deaf-mute man aside, and does all kinds of things. He puts his finger in his ears, touches his tongue, spits, looks up to heaven, groans, and issues a very strong and unusual commandment, “Be opened!” And the deaf mute man is opened and healed.

Jesus is doing the same thing today among us and in the world.

Today the Gospel asks us: When did Jesus take you aside and touch you and heal you? How is Jesus taking you aside, touching you and healing your deafness so you can hear the word of God and speak the good news of love to one another? Where do you need Jesus to touch you and heal you? How are you proclaiming the Gospel and all that Jesus has done for you?

I wrote a little litany to help us reflect on this Gospel.

To all the ways our ears are closed, refusing to listen to God and Jesus and one another, Jesus says to us, “Be opened!”

To all the ways our mouths are closed, refusing to speak the good news of love to one another, or worse, gossiping and putting one another down and telling lies about each other and the world, instead speaking words of affirmation, Jesus says to us, “Be opened!”

To all the ways our minds are closed, refusing to believe and trust in God, refusing to do God’s will or put on the mind of Christ, refusing to accept the wisdom of the Gospel, the way of nonviolence, the truth of justice and peace, Jesus says, “Be opened!”

To all the ways our hands are closed and are clenched and have become fists, instead of reaching out in loving service to those who need us, Jesus says, “Be opened.”

To all the ways we are closed to one another, closed to life, to love, to light, to truth, to peace, to compassion, to joy, Jesus says, “Be opened!”

To all the ways we are closed to the people of the world who suffer violence and injustice, from Cimarron to Iraq, from Los Alamos to death row, from New York to Kabul, from Washington, D.C. to Bogota, Jesus says, “Be opened.”

To all the parts of us that are closed to God, closed to Jesus, closed to the Holy Spirit, Jesus says, “Be opened.”

Most of all, to all the ways that our hearts are closed, to those places where our hearts have grown cold, those dark corners where we cling to ancient grudges and refuse to forgive and have grown comfortable with doubt, despair, judgment, depression, hate and resentment, to all the ways we refuse to let it all go and love everyone unconditionally, Jesus says to each one of us, “Be opened! Be opened! Be opened!”

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