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Thursday, 02 September 2021 07:53

Celebrating At Home - 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Loosening the ligaments

Because of COVID lockdowns and travel restrictions many experience a sense of isolation. Even with the benefits of modern technology and social media we can still feel cut off from those dear to us, unable to leave our homes, go to work, meet up with friends. We share something of the experience of man in this Sunday’s Gospel. He cannot hear, and cannot speak properly. Living in the ancient world that must have been a profoundly isolating, frightening and frustrating experience for him.

The people ask Jesus to lay a hand on the man. There were many travelling healers at that time, so the people’s request does not imply that they know who Jesus really is, only perhaps his reputation as a healer.

Jesus takes the man aside, away from the crowd, puts his fingers into the man’s ears and touches his tongue with spittle. Both are deeply intimate gestures and somewhat confronting. I wonder what it must have been like to be that man. How much did he understand about what Jesus was doing?

Being deaf, did he even know what the crowd had asked Jesus to do for him?

Jesus looks up to heaven, sighs and says ‘Ephphatha,’ – ‘Be opened!’ All at once the man can hear and speak clearly. The man’s social isolation is ended. Now he can enter fully into relationship with other people. The man rejoices, the people rejoice and, even though Jesus asks them not to, they tell the story everywhere.

In telling this story Mark seems to suggest that without the intimate, healing touch of Jesus we remain deaf both to the voice of God and the cries of others, and unable to enter fully into relationship with either. We remain closed and crippled within ourselves, unable to hear the Word of God or pass it on to others. But once touched by the power and spirit of Jesus we are opened to the Word made flesh and God’s vision for human life. Our inner ligaments, the things that once choked the Life within us, begin to be loosened and we begin to speak clearly of God’s loving concern for all humanity in every word and action.

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Celebrating at Home is a Liturgy of the Word centred around the Gospel reading for each Sunday. It includes a reflection on the Gospel and prayers.

It can be used personally or with your family. Parts for all to pray are given in bold print and all the other parts can be shared among those present.

We hope that Celebrating at Home will be a source of nourishment and strength for all who use it.

In the room you decide to use for this prayer you could have a lighted candle, a crucifix and the Bible. These symbols help keep us mindful of the sacredness of our time of prayer and can help us feel connected with our local worshipping communities.

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