5th Week, Friday, Feb 12

 Genesis 3:1-8 / Mark 7:31-37

 You will be like God; “You will know good from evil. ”

A recent study on vandalism in USA dramatizes the price we pay for sin— in monetary terms alone. The study estimated that vandalism costs us over a billion dollars a year. Consider a few examples.

Several youths opened an aqueduct valve in Newark, New Jersey, causing a loss of 50 million gallons of water and costing the city $2.5 million for repairs and the purchase of water. Broken windows, slashed seats, and graffiti cost the New York Subway System $7 million a year. Finally, schools spend $600 million yearly to repair damage caused by vandals. The monetary price of sin is high. Higher yet is the spiritual price we pay.


What is our attitude toward vandalism? “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetuate it.” Martin Luther King, Jr.


Why do people sin? According to the author of Genesis, sinning is not the nature of humans: they were created good. But as far as the memory of people goes, they have sort of rebelled against God, they wanted to be their own masters, to decide for themselves what they wanted. This is put here in the form of a story that expresses also our solidarity in sin.

A sign that Jesus is the Promised Saviour is that he first goes to the poor, the sick, the marginalized people, for they need him most. Not only material poverty is meant. The deaf and the mute, the hard of hearing and the stammerers are we who are shut up within ourselves, often closed to God and to one another. Jesus comes to open our ears and mouths to the words and the deeds of God, that we may listen to his message and respond to his love, and that we may also hear those who are poor and speak to them. Note that this miracle too happens in pagan territory. Let Jesus in the eucharist heal us and commit us to God and people.


The darkest periods of the history of the world, or for that matter of fact, the darkest periods of the history of the Church was when human beings did not involve God in their affairs. In World War I and World War II, where was God in human affairs? In the period before the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, where was God in the Church affairs?


In the 1st reading, where was God in the darkest moment of the devil's temptation? Surely God was around, but He was neither consulted nor was He asked to be involved in the conversation between the serpent and the woman. In the darkness of the moment, Adam and Eve fell into sin, and that made them hide from God. Sin opened their eyes, only to make them run and hide. Whereas Jesus opened the ears and loosened the tongue of the man, and the eyes of the people were also opened to see that God has come to restore the goodness of His creation. In fact, that was what God wanted to do for Adam and Eve when He walked in the garden in the cool of the day - He came as a friend; He came with love and forgiveness.


God will always walk with us in the moments of our temptations, and He wants to save us in the darkness of our sin. May we open our eyes to see the light of God's love in the darkness of temptation and sin. May we also open our ears to hear the voice of God that calls out to us to turn back to Him. May we open our lips to call out to God to help us and save us.


    Encountering Christ:

    1. Community Advocates: The deaf man in this Gospel passage was blessed before he even encountered Jesus because he was a member of a community—good people brought him to Jesus. Introducing others to Christ and sharing his love in mutual support is the ultimate purpose of Christian communities. “In many societies, we are experiencing a profound poverty of relationships as a result of the lack of solid family and community relationships... This kind of poverty can be overcome only through the rediscovery and valuing of fraternal relationships in the heart of families and communities, through the sharing of joys and sorrows, of the hardships and triumphs that are a part of human life (Pope Francis, 12/8/13).

    2. Isolated: Jesus separated this man from the crowd (his community). He brought the man “off by himself.” We can draw some inspiration from this story when we’re feeling lonely, isolated, or even ostracized. The Gospel says that the deaf man was “by himself,” but in fact Jesus was with him. And Jesus is always with us, even in our loneliest moments. What does Jesus do besides accompany us? He strives to heal and restore us. Jesus wants to give us ears to hear his word and lips that speak his praises. He wants us to become the best version of ourselves, and he will accomplish it for us if we let him.

    3. Machinations: Jesus could have cured this man by silently willing so, but, instead he used his fingers, spit, and groaned, “Ephphatha!” The crowd was probably too far away to perceive any of this, so his actions weren’t for their benefit. Perhaps the man himself needed to hear Jesus’s plea, “Be opened.” According to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, “‘Ephphatha—Be opened,’ sums up Christ’s entire mission. He became man so that man, made inwardly deaf and dumb by sin, would become able to hear the voice of God, the voice of love speaking to his heart, and learn to speak in the language of love, to communicate with God and with others.”

    Conversing with Christ: Lord, open my heart with your healing touch. I want to know and love you more deeply. In many areas of my life, I am deaf and mute. I cannot witness to your loving presence or participate fully in Christian community when I am in need of such restoration. Send your spirit and open my heart!

    Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will reach out with a loving gesture to one person whom I resist in my heart.


Opening Prayer

Our saving God, Jesus your Son made those who were deaf hear and those who were dumb speak. Make us see that often we are stutterers and hard of hearing. Open our ears to the message of your Son that it may stir our hearts and change our lives. Loosen our tongues to proclaim the great things you do for us through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior for ever. Amen.