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When Jesus touches, he makes it very personal

 

Homily for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary time year B 2012

  1. Yesterday I had the chance to be part of the great and historic event in the Archdiocese of Melbourne. Archbishop Denis Hart ordained eight new priests for the Church. Yet  what made it historic was the ordination into the Catholic priesthood for the first time in Melbourne the four ex-Anglican priests who have chosen and have decided to be in full communion with the Catholic Church under the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross. It was indeed a remarkable event. The ceremony went over two hours yet that didn’t bother me so much. In fact that made me more grateful to God for the gift of vocation to the priesthood. I was just overwhelmed by the fact that each of these eight men have been called by Jesus personally from whatever they were doing before (I know one of the men was a teacher for many years, and one was a lawyer for sometimes), touched by him in a more personal way, taken away from the crowd and made them sharers of his ministerial priesthood.

  2. This is the beauty of our God. He always looks at us individually from among the crowd. Not only that, He would also take us away from the crowd. Then he would touch our lives personally. Then he would make us whole. Because in the eyes of God, nobody is no one because everyone is someone special for him.

  3. Our little man in our gospel today is a concrete witness to this. According to St Mark, he is deaf and has a speech impediment. We can imagine how his ‘defects’ caused him to be feeling isolated, misunderstood, misinterpreted, misheard, or even marginalized. There might be times in his life that he would want to express his view on things but he couldn’t. There might be times in his life when he wanted to present his own understanding on things but he just couldn’t make it. And when he met Jesus, his life is never the same.

  4. Jesus called this man personally through sign language I suppose,  to follow him away from the crowd. Then at the corner, he looked up to heaven and sighed indicating that what he was about to do to this man is not only his own doing but it is in union with his Father whose compassion is such for our humanity. Jesus then touched him personally (puts his fingers into his ears and touches his tongue with spittle (v.33). Then he made him whole again and  out of his brokenness after he uttered the word ‘Ephphatha’ or ‘be opened.’ Then his life has changed. In a way, he has experienced the fullness of life as a human being.

  5. We are here today because we have been called by Jesus from among the crowd by virtue of our baptism. We are here because Jesus Christ has touched our lives personally. We are here because we experienced his healing touch in more ways than one. We are here to celebrate this Eucharist to give praise and thanks to God for the gift of himself to us- a gift that gives health to our souls. Yet, Jesus is also telling us now to ‘be opened’ to really experience the beauty of his calling.

  6. So how ‘open’ are we to Him? St James in our Second Reading today tells us of one way to express our openness before God- that is to avoid combining our faith in Jesus Christ by making distinctions between people. This is a practical one. Because, there  is always a temptation for us to be discriminating, whether we are conscious of it or not. A good test for this is our ‘attitude’ or ‘how do we think’ about the ‘asylum seekers’ who are risking everything including their own lives just to get to Australia. Another test is how do we play our part in our society. Do we just remain to be critical and discriminating to the people in the government and not doing the bit that we can do to them? Have we ever prayed for them that they may lead this country according to the virtues of Christ and the will of God? Another test, third one, how are we sharing our resources to the rest of our sisters and brothers around the world? I know and I can speak of my own experience that there are many things I  don’t even want now that are really ‘needed’ by the many people in the third world countries. The problem with us is not that we can’t, we just don’t do it.

  7. Jesus is calling us from among the crowd of many. He has touched us personally and continuously despite who we are and whatever we do. He wishes that we may be made whole again out of our brokenness, yet we have to  listen to him all the time ‘to be opened’ to his words, to be opened to ‘his needs’ expressed in the needs of all of humanity, and to open our doors for strangers. So let’s thank him for this and at the same time let’s make the word of God that we hear from the prophet Isaiah in our First Reading today our support as we go on with our Christian journey: ‘Courage! Do not be afraid.’

 

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