September 5 2021, 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Somebody noted that if you remove the first letter in the word “empty,” the pronunciation does not change. Remove the last letter as well, and it is still the same. It is still the same even if you remove the first, the third and the last letter. And if you remove all the letters, it is finally, but still, empty.
In today’s gospel (MK.7, 31-37), Jesus healed the deaf man who had a speech impediment. He took him away from the crowd. It is often when we are empty, and alone with the Lord, that we experience healing, conversion, fresh start, and new beginnings
If we are so full of ourselves, it is hard to make room for God in our lives. It is when we experience brokenness, deprivations, or trials of any kind that we are open to God’s grace, mercy, and love. Yes, a broken heart is an open heart.
All roads lead to death, the final and ultimate self-emptying. Instead of continuous acquisition, hoarding, and frenzied collecting, we must take the road of sharing and self-emptying because we take nothing with us when we leave this world.
My bout with cancer in 2018 was an experience of being taken away from the crowd by the Lord, to be with Him. It was such a grace-filled and refreshing experience for me that made me realize a lot of things. Humbled, cleansed, and purified, yes, but I also felt so loved, through it all. Tears wash our hearts, and clean our eyes.
Live full, and die empty. More precisely, live fully for God, and die empty of yourself. This is the direction we should take in life. Not easy. A constant struggle. But not impossible with God’s grace.
We all have an “impairment.” We all have defects and deficiencies, weaknesses and illnesses. It is the Lord who heals and completes us. The Lord tells us constantly, “Ephatha!” (Be opened!) If we remain closed, we cannot be healed. Humility is the key to open our hearts to God’s healing, forgiveness, and love.
Are we really listening to God in this pandemic situation we are in? Are we so in tune with the data, the cure, and the forecasts that we hardly hear God’s message through it all? “Speak Lord, your servant is listening!” (1 Samuel 3,10)
Are we really listening to the pleas and pains of people around us? Social distancing does not mean distancing ourselves from the untold sufferings of countless people asking for our compassion and help. They need not only our prayers and good intentions. Let us not hold back. Let us be generous, especially this time.
Are we really listening to ourselves? Are we so focused on our wants, so as to forget what we really need? Are we so distracted by the turn of events, that we forget the lessons God wants us to learn? Are we becoming better, not bitter persons? Are we, at all, becoming more humble, kind, patient, and generous because we have been purified, humbled, and taken away from the crowd?
Happy birthday, Mama Mary (Sept. 8)! She is our model for true openness to God. She was always magnifying God. She made God bigger than her problems, her plans, and her very life. Real healing begins when we decrease, and we let God increase in our lives.
Happy birthday, SVD (Society of the Divine Word)! We have been gifted with our faith, so we continue to give and share our faith. To date, we have 122 Filipino SVD missionaries working in about 37 countries all over the world.
A moment with the Lord:
Lord, only You can truly fill up our emptiness. We need You. Amen!