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23rd Sunday
How strange that Jesus, in meeting a deaf and mute person, and in being drawn to him, said “Be opened!”  Wasn’t it more appropriate to say:  “Hear!  Speak!  Be healed!”  That was what everyone else was expecting to hear and to see from the Lord. Given the power, that’s probably what we will instinctively say to someone with a physical deformity. Why did Jesus say something different?
The gospel (Mark 7) shows the sensitivity of Jesus, deeper than the compassion we feel for the suffering brothers and sisters around us.  Yes, Jesus knew the pain and ridicule, the isolation and the poverty of the deaf-mute.  It was plain for all to see, for it was the deaf man’s daily misfortune.  But Jesus felt something more beyond the oppression society imposed on the man.  Jesus felt the stirring in the heart.
And in that man’s heart, Jesus was certain something was trying to emerge, to explode and to express.  It was all locked in there because of his situation.  But it was waiting for someone to break open the doors so it could be finally free.
Jesus did not only restore a man to physical wholeness. He opened the man up to the world.  He unlocked the gates of limitation that held him bound for many years and released him speaking, singing, praising, sharing himself with his surroundings.  One opening led to another.  First the ears, then the tongue and even the crowd around them could not keep their mouths shut, for “the more they proclaimed” what they witnessed that day.
Today the readings invite us to see how Jesus liberates us from forces that make us poor, afraid and isolated. The first reading from Isaiah says:  “Do not be afraid!  Be strong!” Our fears and limitations impair our capacity to show ourselves to others and to share with them.  But God has only one thing in his heart and that is, to see all his children free at last!
Reflecting on God’s love for me in Jesus I am truly humbled at the thought that Jesus loves me so much that he comes to crack open the covering that hides me from others.  He frees me for service, for love, for relationship with the world around me.  He is confident I can speak, I have something to say, I have something to give. 
How many people today are like that deaf-mute waiting to be “opened”? Day in and day out people say to them:  “Shut up!  Keep quiet!  I am not asking your opinion! I am not interested in you!”  Isn’t this the lot of the poor?  And the second reading from James reminds us that God plays no favorites though his heart is focused on the poor.
Let us allow Jesus to touch us where we are hurting the most, to open us so that we can express ourselves in full freedom.  Let us also ask Jesus today that we may be like him, encouraging and empowering others to open up and be confident in facing the world.