From the first reading – something to hold onto:
Say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
We live in scary times, but we must remember that God is in control. Whatever happens to us is either His doing or His allowing. This should give us great comfort and peace. We can be strong and unafraid knowing that He never leaves us to deal with the trials of this life alone. Flying solo, we can crash and burn. We can’t handle! We can do nothing…But with God all things are possible – Anything is possible when we have the Creator of the Universe on our side!!
From the gospel:
“Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” (or Be open.) In today’s gospel, Jesus goes into the Decopolis (“the ten cities”) where there were very few Jews. The people there had heard about Him and wanted to see just what Jesus could do, so they brought Him a deaf man. Jesus healed the man, and the unbelievers were in awe of Him. Let’s dig a little bit deeper. What is the lesson for us? Whenever Jesus healed someone, it was not just for the physical benefit of the person. More importantly, it was for the spiritual benefit of the person healed as well as the benefit of the witnesses to the miracle. The Lord certainly cares when we pray for physical healing, but He is even more concerned with our long-term spiritual health. Any suffering that takes place in this life is temporary. All things pass (even though when you’re going through suffering, it seems as though time is standing still).
Jesus is telling us to Be Open to Him. How do we do that? We must read His word, meditate upon it, then try to live it. God’s Word is a living word. We may read a passage several times at different times in our lives. What didn’t seem to “speak to you” at one time may “speak to you” at another time. Or, it can be like peeling layers of an onion. Each time we read a passage, we may uncover a new layer. Of course, as Catholics, we must remember that we depend on the Magisterium of the Church to interpret scripture for us.
We must spend time with Him in quiet. He may want to speak to our hearts, but we will never hear His voice if we are constantly surrounded by noise and motion. When Elijah went off by himself upon the mountain in search of God’s voice, (1 Kings 19: 11-18) it was not in the earthquake or the wind, but in a whisper (or some translations say silence) that God’s voice was heard.
My favorite place to spend alone time with Jesus is in the adoration chapel. It is the perfect place to read scripture, to pray and to just rest in His presence and “be open.”
In my own life, I have found that one of the greatest obstacles to being open to God’s Will is my own will. It is something I have to pray to overcome each and every day. We cannot be open to God’s Will for our lives when we are desperately and foolishly clinging to our own. In our world, the word, “surrender” usually has a negative connotation. In the spiritual life, it’s a most beautiful word.
“Can we let go? Can we surrender? Can God be trusted to take care of us?” you might ask. Well, no one loves us like He does (after all He made us). No one knows our hearts and our minds as intimately as He does. No one can see the past, present and future all at once as He does. Is He worthy of our complete surrender? I think so! Be open. Let go!