Saturday, September 05, 2009


In the Gospel for Sunday, Jesus opens the ears of the deaf man with a word, some spitting, some groaning, and his fingers. It was a moment that struck St. Peter as so awesome that, years later in conveying the story to St. Mark, Peter could remember the very word Jesus used. Mark must have been moved by Peter's passion in telling the story, because he himself made point of including "Ephphatha" in his account of the event.

Words have power. Speeches by FDR, Churchill, JFK, etc., can still be bought on CD. Sometimes it's the event, and not necessarily the person, that makes the words memorable (such as Neil Armstrong's, "One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind."). Remember last January and the kerfuffle when President Obama misspoke the words of the Oath of Office? How he retook the oath later on that evening? There was a question that, if he did not speak the proper words, despite the election and the electoral college's confirmation, he was NOT the President. That's how powerful words can be.

In the Church, words not only have natural power, but also supernatural power. The words a couple says in the exchange of vows ties the Sacramental bond. The words of absolution that a Priest says in Confession can free the contrite soul of sins. Of course, the words of Christ at the Last Supper, "This is my body; this is the cup of my blood", has been making possible Christ's Real Presence in the Eucharist for close to two millennia.

The healing of the deaf man only came after Christ had spent some time alone with the Apostles. Mark tell us this when he says that Jesus and the twelve "left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis." It'd be like saying you went from New York to Boston by way of Chicago (something not so odd if your job requires you do a lot of air travel). One biblical scholar estimated that such a trip took close to eight months to do. Why did the Lord take the long way? Perhaps he wanted time alone with the Apostles. Only then, without distractions, could their own ears "be opened" and they could hear God's voice.

What about us? Are our lives so full of events and noise that we can't hear God? Would we be willing to wait eight months if God told us to? Our culture and our nature says, "I want it NOW", but what happens when God says, "Not yet"? But I digress.

This week, make a deliberate attempt to choose your words deliberately. Write a letter rather than pound keys on a keyboard (can anyone out there say they can recognize the handwriting of a friend or relative?).

Speaking of words, please pray for the tormented soul who left a dollar in our poor box, covered front and back with some of the most foul things one could write about the Blessed Mother. It must've been dropped into the box at the 4:30pm Mass, because I can still smell the magic marker scent on the dollar. Absolutely diabolic.

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