Homily for February 10th, 2017: Mark 7:31-37.
ABe opened!@ Jesus says to the deaf man who is brought to him for healing. Deafness has closed him off from others. Jesus wants to set him free. Jesus is the man of total openness: openness to God; and openness to those whom society in Jesus= day accepted only in subordinate roles or not at all B women, children, and social outcasts like prostitutes and the hated tax collectors. Our fourth Eucharistic prayer tells us that Jesus proclaimed “the good news of salvation to the poor, to prisoners freedom, and to the sorrowful of heart, joy.”
Jesus is saying to us right now, in this church, what he said to the deaf man: ABe opened!@ How closed in we are much of the time: closed to God, closed to others. We shut ourselves up in prisons of our own making, whose walls are self-fulfillment, and whose guiding principle is the hackneyed and deceitful slogan: ADo your own thing.@ Most of the conflicts, divisions, and wars in our world B between individuals, families, classes, groups, and nations B are the result of people not being open. In the cacophony of conflicting arguments and claims we hear only what we want to hear, and no more; just enough to confirm our prejudices; and then we stop listening altogether.
Even between Christians there are barriers erected by our failure to be open to each other. To remedy this tragic situation, which contradicts Jesus= prayer the night before he died, that all might be one (Jn. 17, passim), the Second Vatican Council recommended the method of dialogue. Dialogue requires that we be open to what those who are separated from us are saying; that we listen before we speak.
Can dialogue overcome all barriers? Sadly it cannot. Some conflicts are so grave that no human power seems great enough to break down the walls that separate us from one another. Nor can we penetrate by our own efforts alone the wall which our sins erect between us and the all-holy God. The gospel proclaims the good news that there is One who can break down those walls. His name is Jesus Christ.
Jesus, the man of total openness, has the right, if ever a man had it, to command: ABe opened!@ He won that right for all time on Calvary when, as we shall hear in a moment in the preface to our Eucharistic prayer, Ahe stretched out his hands as he endured his Passion, so as to break the bonds of death and manifest the resurrection.” (Weekday Preface VI)