23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time          

            In ancient Greece, it was customary for peddlers or street vendors who walked with their wares to cry out, “What do you lack?” The idea was to let people know they were in the vicinity, and also to rouse the curiosity of the people. Coming out of their houses they would want to know what the vendor was selling. It might be something they lacked and needed, or simply something they desired.

            What do you lack? This is a good point for reflection. We may have well-functioning eyes and ears, we may have good physical sight and hearing, but we may be lacking in spiritual sight or insight and spiritual hearing or discernment. Or we may be lacking in some other aspects of life. Let us take an honest inventory of ourselves. May we not get fixated on our lack of material wealth, academic honors, professional advancements, career achievements, worldly successes.

            The man in today’s gospel story lacks the physical ability to hear and to speak clearly. By healing this man of his deafness and muteness, Jesus gives him what he lacks, and enables him to live a fuller life. By doing so, Jesus fulfills Isaiah’s messianic prophecy in today’s first reading: “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the dumb will sing.”

            The ailments listed by Isaiah are symbolic of our interior illnesses. What are these interior illnesses or spiritual afflictions? They are our blindness to the needs of our neighbor, our unwillingness to listen God’s voice attentively, our lameness or weakness in serving and ministering, and our inability to proclaim the Good News. Or to put it in another way: What do we lack? We lack the openness to see what God wants us to see, the willingness to hear what God is telling us, the readiness to serve and minister to others, and the passion to speak of God and his love. We do not lack abilities to do these things; we are just not using them.

            Only Jesus can complete our incompleteness, fill our emptiness, and give what we lack. Let us not confine what we lack to physical and material things. Let us allow the Lord Jesus to give us what we lack in terms of being able to know him more personally, to love him more dearly, to serve him more faithfully. Or in terms of desiring to be with him, to commune with him in solitude and prayer, to root everything in us and about us in him. Or in terms of striving to be more like in him, to share in his life and mission, to follow him on the Way of the Cross.

            Let us consider Jesus’ healing words: “Be opened!” “Ephphatha!” Let us pray that the Lord may open our ears, our lips, our eyes, and our hearts that we may hear his voice, proclaim his Good News, see the signs of his love and experience his concern for us.

            Let us end with a prayer: Lord Jesus, open our ears, our sense of hearing, that we may hear Your Good News – listen to your message of hope and joy, pay attention to Your call to conversion and renewal, and heed Your voice in the cry of the poor. Lord, open our lips, our sense of speech, that we may proclaim Your Gospel – utter words proclaiming your greatness, express uplifting words to those who are down, and give appreciation and affirmation to one another. Lord, open our eyes, our sense of sight, that we may see Your grandeur – get a glimpse of the wonders of creation, look at each other and discover each other’s beauty, and recognize You in the person of our neighbor. Lord, open our hearts, our sense of compassion, that we may feel Your loving presence – have concern for the poor and the afflicted, be affected by the pain and suffering of others, and be open to love and be loved. Lord, open our hands, our sense of service, that we may be magnanimous and generous – share the blessings You give us to the less fortunate, put our time, talents and resources in the service of our community, and give our very selves in love to our brothers and sisters. Amen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s