TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY B HOMILY
THEME: EPHPHATHA “OPEN UP” TO A BETTER FUTURE
Many people live in this world as if they were deaf and dumb: Spouses not listening to each other; not talking to each other! Children not listening to their parents; family members not having a day to evaluate and plan family matters. Some do not pray together! There are individuals who feel lonely, neglected, and miserable! Some feel so stack that they have become pessimistic! They have lost hope. Some are so discouraged that they consider failure to be their destiny. Some believe that their sicknesses are terminal! They do not give God a chance to heal them; God who raises even the dead! Some consider poverty to be their destiny! Others are worried about life after death. They think that their sins are greater than God’s mercy! Worse still there are people who talk them out of hope!
Be informed that your future remains bright until you lose hope. Losing hope is an insult to God, because it implies that He created you without a plan for your future. Yet every person is created with a purpose. Moreover, what does one gain by losing hope?
To the Israelites who had lost hope due to their imprisonment in Babylon, prophet Isaiah said: “Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication, with divine recompense.” (Is 35:4). Psalm 146: 6-10 continues saying: “The God of Jacob keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets captives free …. The fatherless and the widow the Lord sustains.” And, certainly, God liberated Jews from exile, as he had liberated them from slavery in Egypt. He saved the widow of Zarephath from starvation. (1Kgs 17:8-24).
In the gospel text from Mark 7:31-37, Jesus exemplifies God’s power to save the sick, the oppressed, the poor, the disabled, by opening the ears of the deaf, removing also his speech impediment. He commands: “ephphatha!” “open up”; open up to hear the word of God; open up to your opportunities! Do not be closed in! Do not lose hope! Your Creator has a bright future for you! Do not let any one talk you out of the blessings God has in store for you! Your vindicator is greater than your enemies! Liberation from poverty, from sickness, from loneliness is coming. There is nothing impossible for God. “Arise, shine, for your light has come!” (Is 60:1). You will no longer walk in darkness.
God liberates those who trust in him. Thus, he protected from the fiery furnace the three young Jews, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who refused to worship the statue of King Nebuchadnezzar and preferred to worship the true God. (Daniel 3)
Likewise, Daniel who had been promoted and condemned to death by King Darius, because of the jealousy of Daniel’s rivals, was saved from lions. The rivals and their families were the ones who were instead devoured by the lions. (Daniel 6).
I myself was saved from a hippo. Otherwise you would never have seen me here. God protects us from dangers every day without our notice.
We also have examples of a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years and was healed by Jesus (Jn 5:1-18) and a woman who had had a hemorrhage for 12 years; after wasting all her money on physicians, she was healed by Jesus just by touching his cloth, without spending a penny on Jesus.
In 1 Kings 19, prophet Elijah, tired, hungry and angry, wishes himself death. But an angel of God brings him bread and water and encourages him to eat and drink, because he has not yet accomplished the mission God gave him. None of us is sure whether he or she has accomplished God’s mission or not. We need to have the will to go on, like Jesus falling and getting up to carry his cross. That is how you carry your family. That is how you persevere on your job. Those are the huddles to promotion.
So, do not despair! Be patient! Just open up to God’s power! Do not despise yourself! Saint James has asked: “Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs in the kingdom that he promised to those who love him? (Js 2:5). God has better things in store for us. Our bad situation is not our destiny. Let us do our best and leave the rest to God. Do not listen to anybody despising or discouraging you. Our God is far greater than human beings. If Jesus suffered so much for our salvation, how can he let us down? Jesus gives us his body and blood because he values us highly. LET US OPEN UP TO GOD’S BLESSINGS. THEY ARE ON THE WAY.
“91Then King Nebuchadnezzar was startled and rose in haste, asking his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” “Certainly, O king,” they answered. 92“But,” he replied, “I see four men unbound and unhurt, walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God.” 93Then Nebuchadnezzar came to the opening of the white-hot furnace and called: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out.” Thereupon Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire. 94When the satraps, prefects, governors, and counselors of the king came together, they saw that the fire had had no power over the bodies of these men; not a hair of their heads had been singed, nor were their garments altered; there was not even a smell of fire about them. 95Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent his angel to deliver the servants that trusted in him; they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 96Therefore I decree for nations and peoples of every language that whoever blasphemes the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be cut to pieces and his house made into a refuse heap. For there is no other God who can rescue like this.” 97Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.” (Dan 3: 91-97).