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23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

September 4th, 2016

 

 

The Gift Of Touching

 

 


Gospel

 

Mk 7:31-37

Again Jesus left the district of Tyre
and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee,
into the district of the Decapolis.
And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment
and begged him to lay his hand on him.
He took him off by himself away from the crowd.
He put his finger into the man’s ears
and, spitting, touched his tongue;
then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” —
And immediately the man’s ears were opened,
his speech impediment was removed,
and he spoke plainly.
He ordered them not to tell anyone.
But the more he ordered them not to,
the more they proclaimed it.
They were exceedingly astonished and they said,
“He has done all things well.
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

 

 

 

A teenage boy was sent off to college by his father after the death of his mother.  He and his father never really had much of a relationship.  Throughout his life there had never been any interaction.  His father didn’t go to any of his football games, nor soccer games; never took him fishing; there were no embraces, no hugs, no handshakes, no touching at all.  The young man had always experienced his mother’s touching, but not his dad’s.  His father was a corporate executive who was always busy with paper work, phone calls, clients, his job.  He didn’t have time for his son, to touch, to communicate, to show any love or to express it.  Two months into college the boy committed suicide, leaving a note that said, “I have nothing to live for . . .”

 

All through the ministry of Jesus, we witness all that he does.  We walk beside him while He opens the eyes of the blind, calls the lame to stand up and walk, changes water into wine at a wedding feast of Canaan, heals lepers, and then in this reading he says:  “Ephphatha” (Ef-fa-tha), “be opened.”  And everyone is amazed by these miracles.  People shake their heads in disbelief.  They marvel at the wonder of him.  And yet they really don’t know what he did to make that difference in the lives of all those people.  Perhaps we too don’t really know fully what he does to make a difference in our lives.  HE TOUCHES!

 

The very first thing that happens when we enter into this world is that we are touched.  A quick swat on our bottom and our world comes to life, and we cry out.  Touching caused a reaction, it did something that was really awesome.  I remember years and years ago when one of our little girls fell down and scraped her knee on our gravel driveway.  Before we put a band-aid on that precious little knee, we kissed it and we told her that it would be alright.

 

Touching my friends, is life giving.  Jesus gave life and continues to do so.  He gave us the gift to perform miracles, perhaps not great big miracles, but nonetheless he gave us the miracle of touching.  We each are empowered by this simple gift.  We can turn tears into a smile; a hurt into a healing; a pain into a relief.  We talk about all the terrible things that are going on in this world of ours, and there are;  about all the bad things going on in our country, and there are for sure.  There are wars and starvation, dreadful illnesses, and crime, and child abuse and battered wives, and confused people from all over, and empty pews in our churches.  We can try and make some sense out of it all and fall short of an answer.

 

Touching.  Touching can invoke healing and harmony and peace.  If that young college man’s dad would have reached out to his son and embraced him in a moment of sincere love, at a time when he needed it the most, after the death of his dear mother, the son may have been healed, and went on to college with a healed heart and most likely a better outcome.  People of all ages cry out to us.  Society cries out to us.  People want and need to be touched . . . by you and I.  It is easy to touch those who we see and live with everyday of our lives, family, friends, classmates, and playmates.  Touching even those, would be an awesome gesture of love.  We can touch in many ways and we can also touch those who we did not see or are in close contact with.

 

 We can touch by way of a letter, a phone call, a visit. We all know that there are many friends in our lives by way of the internet. We touch each other in many ways;  emails, forums, chat rooms, websites, newsletters,  and even by phone.  We can touch like Jesus touched and showed us how to touch:  by our smile, by our compassion, by a kind word, and encouraging word;  we can bring about healing by our prayers, we can soothe a lonely heart, we can spread the word of our Lord, we can share our joys and our hurts.  We can show hope, we can lend a listening ear, we can show that we care.

 

That’s the miracle Jesus gives us, and Jesus didn’t just touch those who believed.  He touched those who did not believe, and as a result, they did believe.  He did not tell them that they were doomed for hell, that they were less human beings because they were non-believers, that there was no hope nor salvation for them.  I get many emails and links to websites that blast and condemn non-believers, but they sure don't seem to want to reach out to those non believers out of love, but seem to more content to judge them out of self-righteousness.  To me, that is hypocritical, that is not what Jesus taught us to do.  How dare we condemn, how dare we judge, how dare we cast out those we see not worthy.  We are no less sinners, no less a broken person than a non-believer.  The very fact that we are believers means that we have a responsibility to reach out to them in love people, in love, out of love.  That was what Jesus did.

 

There is something else in the story that it would be easy to miss. Jesus begins his journey in the region of Sidon and comes to the Decapolis, on the eastern shore of the Jordan, where he meets the deaf-mute. These regions have something in common: they are both pagan territories. Yes, Jesus comes first and foremost for the lost children of Israel. But his compassion knows no bounds. His miraculous love transforms the lives of the pious and the outcasts as well –tax collectors, Samaritans, gentiles, even the hated Romans!  He died on the cross for all people of all time.  Do we want people to believe?  Then we must do it as Jesus did it, by touching.  Touching out of love, touching in His name.

 

Thank you and God bless each of you, believers and non-believers alike.  Have a great week.

 

© Deacon Steve A. Politte

September 3rd, 2016

 

 

 

 Touch Me !

 

Touch me with your smile –
and it will change my mood.
Touch me with your humor –
and my soul will be fed by you.

Touch me with your confidence –
and I will stand proud and tall.
Touch me with your pain –
and I will heed your call.

Touch me with your eyes –
and I will see into your heart.
Touch me with your honesty –
and I will fear no dark.

Touch me with your spirit –
and I will brace the wind.
Touch me with your kindness –
and I will be your friend.

Touch me with your wisdom –
and I will know the truth.
Touch me with your grace –
and I will believe in you.

Touch me with your joy –
and happiness I will find.
Touch me with your gentleness –
and you will be a friend of mine.

Touch me with your dreams –
and I will make them come true.
Touch me with your sorrows –
and I come running to you.

Touch me with your self –
and never will I complain.
Touch me very often –
and for you I’ll do the same.

Touch me with your embrace –
and I shall feel your love.
Touch me every single day –
with God’s heavenly grace above.

Touch me with your peace –
and miracles will come.
Touch me with your heart –
and your touching will be done!


© Steve A. Politte
Posted at Nethugs.com
1/21/2006
 

 

 

"Open The Eyes Of My Heart" by Don Moen

 

 


 

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