Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 5, 2021
The three tenses are there…PAST…PRESENT…and FUTURE. But the order is scrambled.
The Old Testament Reading, rather than describing how things WERE, spins an image of how things WILL BE when the reign of God is in full bloom.
The Second Reading speaks to how things WERE in the early days of The Church. But, upon deeper reflection, aren’t we given a brief description of how things remain in THE PRESENT? Don’t the privileged still muscle their way to the front of the crowd? And, for that matter, doesn’t the crowd oblige them? Envy them? Hope to be part of them?
Our Gospel reports a “double-healing miracle.” This was a single moment in the PAST. But it also offers us a glimpse of the FUTURE…a future that will never end.
When Christ returns in glory, all creation will look on “astonished” as the universe is healed. This miraculous transformation will cause all humanity to shout out with one voice: “HE HAS DONE ALL THINGS WELL!”
But within the “double miracle,” there is also an undeniable “double challenge.” To those of us living in the PRESENT, this miracle should be appreciated for more than enabling an individual to enter into a normal life. There is a timeless lesson and a challenge underlying the Lord’s compassionate response to the man’s double disability. The challenge begins at Baptism.
Honoring this particular healing miracle, the Church provides the option of a special prayer during the Baptism of an infant. Towards the conclusion of the ritual, the minister of the Sacrament touches the ears and mouth of the child and intones the prayer referred to as Ephphetha.
The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the dumb speak. May he soon touch your ears to receive his word and your mouth to proclaim his faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father.
With that gesture, and those words, Christians are graced with the ability to hear that to which God is calling them. Moreover, disciples are challenged to speak out and give witness to the Gospel.
The precious few courageous enough to fully embrace this challenge, in a spiritual sense, shrug off the three tenses…PAST…PRESENT…FUTURE…and exist in the timelessness of the Infinite Christ.
Those who look on “astonished” by the strength and courage of committed discipleship are given a glimpse of how things should be, and will be, when humanity is finally freed from the prison of time.
Through God’s infinite compassion and mercy, the crippling disability of sin will at last be healed. All creation will hear the Voice of Love…and will respond by giving God glory and praise. Then we will truly live a “normal life,” the life our Creator intended for us at the very beginning.
Turn down the volume of your day-to-day lives. Sit for a minute in prayerful silence…isolated from the noise of the world. Overcome your deafness by listening with an eager ear. You might well be blessed to hear “Christ sounds” approaching in the distance.
That far off sound of redemption and healing encourages us who wait…to “do all things well” so that we can enjoy Eternal Life and Love.