23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time          

            There is a poem by Myra Brooks Welch called “The Touch of the Master’s Hand.” Her poem actually tells the story of an old dusty violin being auctioned. The violin is about to be sold for a mere $3 when an old man steps forward, picks it up, dusts it off and begins to play. The man plays such sweet music on the violin that when he finishes playing, the bidding jumps into the thousands of dollars. What changed its value? What transformed the old dusty violin into a precious instrument? The touch of the Master’s hand.

            In today’s gospel story, the touch of the Master’s hand is none other than the touch of Jesus himself. A deaf man who has speech impediment is brought to him. Jesus puts his finger into the man’s ears and touches his tongue with spittle. Immediately the man is able to hear and to speak.

            The touch of the Master’s hand makes people, in the gospel story, to say, “(Jesus) has done all things well.” In the Book of Genesis, at the end of the sixth day of creation, God saw his work and concluded that it was very good. The deeds of Jesus, like the works of God in creation, are all done well. The words and works of Jesus are not just testimonies of his charism or skill at magic. Rather, they are the signs that a new world of blessings is miraculously springing into existence through him. Whatever Jesus does, he always does well.

            This touch of our divine Master’s hand continues to transform our lives today. But the question is: Are we allowing the Master’s hand to touch us? Are we allowing the touch of the Master to transform our lives? Are we allowing the Lord Jesus to cure us of our illness, to heal us of our affliction, to free us of our addiction? To fix whatever is broken in us and to mend whatever is wounded in us? To remedy our maladies, both physical and spiritual, both personal and social, both individual and communal? To recreate and restore us into God’s image and likeness?

            We need to be transformed precisely because we have been deformed. We have been made ugly by self-centeredness and selfishness. We have been disfigured by a wrong sense of values and priorities. We have been damaged by bitterness, unforgiveness, and hatred. We have been distorted by too much worries, anxieties, and fears. We have been defaced by greed, worldliness, and materialism. Having been deformed in these ways, we need to be reformed or recreated by God’s love.

            If we want to experience transformation in our life we need to allow the Lord Jesus to touch us by his ongoing incarnation and his being with us, by his saving words in the Gospels, by his healing presence in the Sacraments, by his amazing grace in our everyday life. We can be transformed and healed of our woundedness and brokenness, of our illness and affliction, of our attachment and addiction, by experiencing God’s mercy and receiving his forgiveness, and by allowing ourselves to be equipped with God’s grace to be the best version of ourselves. We can be transformed and become more loving by encountering God in a more personal way, by reminding ourselves of God’s faithful love, and by striving to respond to that love. When we are open to the realization of God’s love for us we will want to make some response of our own love. We can be transformed and made more Christ-like by knowing the Lord Jesus more personally, by loving him more dearly, and by serving him more faithfully. When we allow ourselves to be touched by Christ’s selfless, self-giving love on the Cross, we become more willing and ready to follow him, we become more passionate in personally sharing and in actively participating in his life and mission, we become more generous in sharing ourselves. Let us allow the touch of the Master to transform our lives.

            Allow me to end this by reading to you an excerpt of that poem of Myra Brooks Welch that I have mentioned a while ago: And many a man with life out of tune, And battered and scarred with sin, Is auctioned cheap, to a thoughtless crowd, Much like the old violin. But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd Never can understand The worth of a soul, and the change that’s wrought By the Touch of the Master’s Hand.         

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