Thursday, September 3, 2009

“Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!”

"Ephphatha!"— that is, "Be opened!"
Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (23B), September 6, 2009

BURNING QUESTION: Is religion for the weak-minded?
FEATURED BLOG: Newman Centers - "Faith home" away from home
VOCATION NEWS: "Signs of Hope" - A priest's ministry to the deaf
PASTORAL HISPANA: Aprender a escuchar

ear Friends, In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus performs one of several miracles attributed to him in the bible. He listens to the pleas of a deaf man and heals him. Our Discussion Questions this week will be a very handy guide as you conduct your Sunday Readings bible study sessions with your family, friends or church groups.

So what's the point? Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosi discuses how the Four Gospels and even secular historians all agree — Jesus of Nazareth worked miracles. The question is: why did he do them? To prove that he was a prophet or maybe even something more? Or was his motive compassion for the suffering?

Fr. Andrew Greeley says Mark’s repeated gospel theme is that Jesus did indeed do signs and wonders. But He refused demands for spectacular signs because he was not merely a wonder worker. He opens the hearts of all as the first reading suggests. Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, OSB adds that Mark's narrative proclaims the good news that Jesus has the power to heal our deafness and our blindness so we can speak the truth about him and glorify God without impediment.

We are ephphethized people

Fr. Thomas Rosica shares his observation that our contemporary world has grown deaf to the words of Jesus. However it is not a physical deafness but a spiritual deafness caused by sin. We are deaf when we refuse to recognize those who suffer in the world around us. After all, we the baptized are ephphethized people according to Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS. We are commanded to open our eyes to see what should be seen, but there are always things we don’t want to see. And so we don’t see them.

He adds that Christianity is primarily about the pursuit of the perfection of charity, and not just the pursuit of "my own peace of mind". and to this, Fr. John Foley, S. J.declares that a human person is built to be loved by God, not just to have good health, riches, or reputation. Real life consists of exchanging love with God and with others, not just in seeming to be a leader or a success.

Evidence of our Baptism

The Gospels, according to Father Cusick, are filled with the evidence of the sacramental system initiated by Christ. As incarnate God he uses physical reality, the gifts of God's creation, as signs to bear the grace of supernatural life. Upon this deaf man, he used his spit and placed it on the man's ears to perform the miracle. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says this is a story with baptismal overtones, for during baptism the priest touches the neophytes ears and mouth and says be open. Jesus touched him then. And He touches us now.

Faith is to believe that he alone has power to save us, that he can open our eyes and ears. Fr. Phil Bloom tells us that as Jesus healed the deaf man and gave him a voice, he will help each of us listen to him.

Sharing Christ's Love

The power of faith's hearing and seeing enables us to realize that the only way to share Christ's resurrection is through sharing Christ's love, thereby following in his way of the cross. It is only the power of love that conquers evil. And so this Sunday at Mass, let us ask ourselves whether intimate presence is part of the goal of our own lives. Do we know that God is deeply involved with us? Do we let his love flow into us and through us to others, or must it fight its way around us? Let’s pray to hear, as the deaf man finally did.

St. John Vianney & St. Augustine

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix tell us how St. John Vianney defeated the devil. He did it through the confessional where he spent great lengths of time in service to the Lord and His people. His popularity as a confessor increased year by year that railway cars had to be added to the trains from Lyons to Ars to accommodate the hundreds of pilgrims traveling to have them hear his confession each day.

And we reflect upon St. Augustine, one of the greatest and most influential Church Fathers. His writings have shaped Christian theology. Much is known about his life but here are ten facts you might not know about him.

More Priests Stories

This Sunday's gospel focuses on Jesus' healing of a deaf man. We give you a wonderful companion piece about how a Catholic priest is ministering to the deaf in his Harrisburg, PA parish. Meanwhile some of the over 1 million visitors at the Minnesota State Fair got a Catholic treat when priests from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis answered questions from the public when they hosted “Grill a Priest.” It was part of the "Theology on a Stick" series of events at the state fair.

Meanwhile from Denver, a group of seminarians are validating the national trend. More and more seminarians today are leaning conservative and favoring religious orders that offer stricter adherence to Church teachings. This discipline embodies a new experiment in molding future Catholic priests.

Labor Day & Papal Messages

n a message for Labor Day on Monday, Sept. 7, the U.S. bishops are underlining the need to retain hope and pray for those who have lost jobs during the economic recession. The USCCB message calls for rebuilding the economy guided by ethical principles. From the Vatican, Pope Benedict released his papal prayer intentions for the month of September and he will be praying in a particular way for the evangelization of the Word of God.

Back to College & More

As millions head back to college, miles away from their home parishes, many will find their Catholic faith challenged in different ways. Expect the different Newman Centers at their respective campuses to play a significan role as their faith home away from home. Also a young lady tells us how she used to think the Bible was boring. Then, she said one Sunday Mass changed everything. Her story is aptly titled, "Read the Bible? Me?"

Stories of Hope

Some years ago, a little boy decided to go for a swim in the old swimming hole behind his house not realizing that an alligator was swimming toward the shore. "Scars of Life" tells the story of the brave struggle between his father who wouldn't let go and the alligator who wanted to pull him to the bottom of the lake. Plus we bring you the story of "The Non-believing Barber" which offers an explanation of why God allows pain and suffering in our lives.

Just Coffee & a Good Night's Rest

If it weren’t for the coffee, Daniel Cifuentes would have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally years ago. Today, he runs a coffee roaster just south of Douglas, Ariz., where he and another employee prepare beans for Café Justo, a Mexican grower cooperative founded to address the root causes of migration out of the country. Most of their coffee is distributed through Catholic parishes on both sides of the border.

Finally, for many people getting enough sleep each night might seem like a luxury, instead of a necessity. However, experts say sleep is as important as regular exercise and a good diet. Here's the test for whether you're getting enough sleep. You shouldn't feel drowsy during the day, even during boring activities. If you do, you aren't getting enough sleep.

Another eventful week in our Catholic world. Have a safe and blessed Labor Day weekend.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

P.S.: Is Your Parish Website Collecting Dust? Almost all parishes have websites. But almost no one visits them. We assist by helping your parish convert your current websites from dull, ineffective online parish brochures into active, dynamic portals for true evangelization. Get more info here.

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