Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Homily 23rd Sunday of the Year 6 September 2009

One of my favorite moments in the ritual of Baptism for children
is a prayer that follows the actual pouring of water,
in which the priest prays that the ears and mouth of the child
will be opened so that he or she might hear God’s word
and proclaim His faith to the praise and glory of God our Father.

Quite often this prayer happens in a moment of comic relief
in what is otherwise a solemn ritual.

As I pray that the child’s mouth be opened to praise God,
he or she is sometimes screaming louder than I am praying!
No doubt the Lord hears the beautiful sounds of an child,
which in their own way give praise to God!

As we grow in the grace of our Baptism, our faith matures.
From our childhood through to old age,
each of hears God and understand His word more and more
and each of us discovers new ways of proclaiming His praise.

Yet, the prayer of the Baptism ritual remains in some way unfulfilled
for we are constantly pursuing a more complete opening of our senses
and of our hearts and minds
that we might perceive more clearly, and proclaim more eloquently
the Word God desires to reveal to us
and through us to the world.
Each new chapter in our lives affords another blessed opportunity
to grow in grace
by opening ourselves to the Word, the will, and the love of God.

We are always learning, hearing, absorbing and growing in faith.

Every day presents a chance to evangelize – to proclaim our faith in Jesus –
by the witness of a holy life and the love of a caring heart
to the praise and glory of God our Father!

Our God became incarnate, that is, He took on flesh – a human body.
Our God who cannot be grasped or known in His fullness
came down among us in order that we might touch God.

The Lord became palatable to us that we might truly come to know Him.

The deaf mute in today’s Gospel was healed by Jesus in a unique way.
Jesus took him off by Himself…put His fingers into the man’s ears…
spat into His face…looked up to Heaven and groaned in prayer…
and finally exclaimed “Be opened!”

This is one of the most intimate, earthy, passionate encounters
that anyone has with Jesus in the record of the Gospels.

This poor deaf and mute man…pathetic in the eyes of the world…
literally feels the touch of the finger of God…
and is instantly and permanently healed!
The prayer I mentioned from the Baptism ritual
takes its name from the same ancient Hebrew word
that Jesus speaks to the man in the Gospel:
“Ephphatha!” “Be opened!”

It is this same powerful word that Jesus speaks to us today: “Be opened!”
Jesus invites us to a greater openness of our senses to the perception of His presence
and a greater openness of our hearts to the absorption of His Word.

Every one of us is at times not open to God.
We make our decisions without consulting Him in prayer,
we live at times by worldly standards and not by divine law,
we allow our weak selves to get in the way of His saving grace.

Jesus calls us today to something more…to a way of living beyond the mundane…
in which perceptible realities becomes moments of grace.

This openness to God begins in prayer…and in intimacy.

The healing Jesus performs begins with a prayer…
with the sick man himself…apart from the crowd.
Jesus looks up to His Father in Heaven and groans…
and only then does He act to heal the sickness of the man.

In the same way, our daily prayer is our retreat from the world…from the crowd…
wherein we sigh and groan with longing for the divine
and enter into intimate conversation with our God.
In our private moments of contemplation we hear God’s Word,
resounding in the deepest recesses of our hearts.

Through the sacramental life of the Church, celebrated as a family of faith,
we breathe deeply of the sweet odor of eternal life.

Our senses, our minds and our hearts, are opened ever more fully
to the presence of God
and the promptings of His Holy Spirit.

Jesus touches us with the finger of His grace and heals our spiritual impediments,
removing the barriers that prevent God’s Word from penetrating us deeply.

If we take this leap of faith…
entering into prayer and begging God to command our hearts: “Be opened!”
we will understand and come to love God’s truths
in ways never before imaginable.

Then our lives become enveloped in grace
and our tongues loosened for the praise of God our Father.

In this is our eternal joy!

1 comment:

Mary W. said...

Thank you for your uncompromising faithfulness! Your passionate love for the Church and your unwillingness to waver on a single one of her beautiful truths is what we, the the people of the Church, so desperately need from our priests! God bless you with enduring zeal.