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I don’t think I will ever forget the morning of 9/11/2001. The phone rang. A close friend could barely say “Turn on television. The World Trade Center … ” She could not finish the sentence! As soon as I turned on the TV I knew why. I also remember very clearly thinking “The world will never be the same!”

Almost twenty years later I find myself, for different reasons, thinking anew “The world will never be the same.” The only difference is that it is no longer the result of just a one-day event.

I am not referring to changes brought about by technology. Or even the ravages of COVID or climate change. In more than 80 years of life, I have never experienced such a deeply angry and polarized world. Something has crept into our hearts over those years.

Our personal infallibility

Anger and violence pervades our every level of conversation with friends and even families. There is no longer any middle ground. Everyone has become infallible. There is little or no recognition that there is something to be learned from others who think differently. Everything is “either/or”. No “both/and.

We ‘listen” to one another not to learn but ti seize on where we differ. So often we do not really try to understand, only to convince. Differences quickly explode into verbal and even physical violence. We have lost the sense of being brothers and sisters,  earthen vessels of the body of Christ with different gifts and insights.

There seems to be no way out.

Historical perspective

Eight centuries before Christ the people of Israel were in fear and trembling. They were in a situation that might be the equivalent today of a country like Russia conquering us and then, worse, being taken over by a larger. harsher government.

To such people Isaiah speaks, encouraging them to stand firm and continue to believe and trust God.

“Then will the eyes of the blind be opened…

The ears of the deaf be cleared.”

The blind will look and see signs of God coming to help them. (Is. 35:5)

The gospel this weekend also tells us a story of a man healed by Jesus because the community brought him to Jesus.

And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him.
Jesus 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!”

Today, each of us needs our eyes opened and our tongues loosened.

At our Baptism we heard “Ephphatha”.
   “The Lord has made the deaf hear and the dumb speak. May He soon
touch your ears to receive the word and your mouth to proclaim His faith
to the praises and glory of God the Father. Amen”

Today, let us pray anew “Ephphath” that

  • we have open ears to God’s voice;
  • speak that Word plainly when we are asked about our faith, when someone needs to hear a good word from us, when we need to speak up on another person, or a people’s, behalf.

Let us become the change we pray for

That’s the hope and the challenge of “Ephphatha!”— “Be opened!”

As we disciples need to

  • open ouselves to God’s word
  • speak to one another in ways that bring about reconciliation between conflicting parties and among those who have refused to listen to one another.

Click below for an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk