"[Jesus] put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, 'Ephphatha!'— that is, 'Be opened!' — And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly" (Mk 7:33-35).
There is a little ritual during the sacrament of Baptism called the "Ephphatha Rite." After the child has been baptized, the priest blesses the child's ears and mouths. The hope is that the child will one day be able to hear God's word and then proclaim it to others. Maybe parents hope as well that the child will be able to listen to the parents when the child is told to go to bed or stop fighting with their siblings. Either way, the priest is asking the ears and mouth to be opened, as that is what the word Ephphatha means.
To be opened. Pope Benedict XVI, in an Angelus Address several years ago, said that one word, Ephphatha, captures Christ's entire mission. Jesus came to open us, to free us from anything that would enslave us. Jesus came to set us free.
This, by the way, was yet another fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy, which we have in the first reading. "Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared...(Is 35:4-7, emphasis mine).
Openness is a catchword these days. May we be open first and foremost to Jesus Christ and his influential grace.
To help with our music ministry, we are looking for a grand piano for the church. If you know of one in decent shape (or even a baby grand piano) that could be donated, we would tremendously appreciate it. Please contact me or Glenn De Castro. This will not only save us a good deal of money, but will enhance the music experience at Mass. Thank you.
Speaking of donations, several of you donated beautiful artwork for the recently refurbished parish center conference room. Feel free to stop in and look next time you are in the parish center. We are again grateful for your generosity to help beautify our parish.
The St. Juliana Teen Ministry returns for the year with its opening Mass at 5pm this Sunday, September 9th, followed by prayerful conversation and social in the gym afterwards. We are exploring ways for the teens to do service trips and have other experiences outside the confines of St. Juliana. Parents with high schoolers, please encourage your child to attend!
School board will meet this Monday in the parish center conference room, and SPRED has its opening Mass in the chapel this Tuesday. I will be at Mundelein Seminary Wednesday afternoon and overnight through Thursday for meetings with the Archdiocese Presbyteral Council, upon which I serve. On Wednesday night Cardinal Cupich is holding a meeting for all priests of the Archdiocese regarding the recent scandals in the church. Here is an excerpt of what the Cardinal wrote in a letter to us priests:
"Dear Brothers, One of my major concerns in this moment of suffering for many in the church is you, the priests of the archdiocese, who serve with distinction and great grace and are loved by our people. It is with that in mind that I want to make myself available to the presbyterate to discuss any issues or answer any questions you wish to raise with me..."
Please continue to keep the whole church, and particularly all victims of abuse, in your prayers. If we are open to the Holy Spirit, some good will come forth from this.
Yours in Christ,