Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino



 Twenty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time: He Touches Us


He took him away from the crowd. He touched his ears and his mouth and said, "Be open".  And the man left singing the praises of God to the world.


            This is a miracle story.


            This is a story with baptismal overtones, for during baptism the priest or deacon touches the neophytes ears and mouth and says be open.


            This is a story about our lives with the Lord.


            There is a great deal of noise in our lives.  Interesting word, noise.  It even sounds bad.  NOISE.  Say the word out loud a number of times and you’ll get a head ache.  There is much noise in our lives. There is audio noise, like the sound you hear when someone has their phone connected to a fax machine, I hate that.  The radio, the TV, the phone, the kids, the neighbors, those driving down the street with their radios on overkill, are all audio noises.  There is also noise that is not due to sound.  There is the disturbance created by the continual worrying about tomorrow, the hanging on to the battle stories of the past.  Noise.  Noise. Noise.


            Ludwig van Beethoven became deaf, as I’m sure you know.  But his deafness was not a lack of sound.  He suffered from severe tinnitus, a continual ringing in his ears that became so intense he could not hear anything else.  The noise overpowered the sounds of his own music.  Beethoven never heard his own Ninth Symphony.   


            The same thing can happen to us.  The noise of our lives can overpower our ability to hear, to hear the Lord speaking in others.


            There is indeed a great deal of noise in our lives:  "Did you see what she was wearing?  To Church of all places?  Guess who just broke up?”  Noise Noise Noise.  “Mom, Dad, can I have.....? go......? would you buy me......?”  Arguments over who played what role in a movie, or who did what on a sports team.  The phone rings, "You have a tremendous opportunity to save money now by having your driveway resurfaced this week instead of putting it off and have to redo the entire driveway three years from now."  NOISE.


            We are surrounded by so much noise that we can become deaf to the cries of God’s people, to the cries of the Lord coming from his people.  There are blowhards in the political sphere who make so much noise that we can easily become deaf to the needs of the poor, the immigrant, the sick, and so forth. The ranting of the blowhards can result in our looking at those who have needs as being evil.  Immigrants are not evil.  My grandparents were immigrants.  They weren’t evil.  They were just looking for a way to escape the poverty and turmoil of Calabria and create a better life for their family.   The immigrants around us are not evil.  They are hard working people who are trying to care for their families. The poor are not evil.  They are people struggling to live with the bare necessities of life.  The sick are not evil.  They are our brothers and sisters who need our care.  The blowhards are making a great deal of  noise to get votes by appealing to people’s most depraved instincts.  And that’s instinct with a capital Stink. Their noise can drown out God’s voice telling us, “As often as you did this for the least of my brethren, you did it for me.”


            And Jesus took the man away from the crowd, away from the noise.  He took him to have a personal encounter with the Messiah.


            He calls us away from the crowd, away from the noise into his quiet.


--Quiet before the Lord is so important. 


            We need a few moments  before and after Mass,

--out of respect for the presence of the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament,

--out of respect for the needs of others to get away from the noise,

--out of respect for our own need to listen to the Lord in the quiet. 


            We need quiet in our homes. 

--Fifteen minutes of quiet, before the morning gets going,

                        --or after the kids are in bed,

                        --or together as a family,

                        -- just a little quiet time.

                        -- A little time to get away from the noise. 

                        --A little time with the Lord so he can touch us.


            He touched the man's ears and he said, "Be opened."


            He calls us to hear.

            --Hear the still small voice Elijah heard, whispering that God has a plan for each of us. 

            --Hear the voice of Christ on the cross, telling us in the darkest moments of our lives that we will get through this together. 

--Hear the Holy Spirit singing the Love Song of God in our hearts. 

--Hear the voice of Mary, reassuring the concerned wine steward at the wedding feast of Cana, and reassuring us, saying, "Do whatever he tells you."

--Hear the voice of our conscience within, calling us to the new life of the Lord's love, calling us to holiness.

                        --Hear the Word of God. 

                                    --Alive in the Bible,

                                    --proclaimed in the Church,

                                    --proclaimed by the Church. 

--proclaimed by the loving husband and wife in their continual gifts of themselves to each other,

--proclaimed by parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, all good people,  giving themselves to the children, to others who need help.


                        --Hear the Word of God

-- proclaimed by children in their steps away from self centeredness. 

                        -- proclaimed by the retiree concerned with the future of others, not just himself

                                                or herself.

                        --Hear the Word of God. 


                        And then He touched the man's mouth and said, "Be opened". 


            --He tells us not to be afraid to stand up for our beliefs and our lifestyle, even if we are told that we are not in concert with modern society. 


            --He tells us  that he needs our voices.  He needs us to proclaim that he is indeed alive. 


            --The Resurrection continues.


            --He opens our mouths to proclaim His presence in the world.


            He drew the man away from the crowd.  He touched his ears and his mouth, and he said, "Be opened." And the man left proclaiming the love of God.


            He touched him.


            He touches us.