homily – September 10

Mark 7:31-37

Just a couple of words on today’s gospel. Some good friends brought this man to Jesus. He couldn’t hear, he couldn’t speak correctly. They wanted Jesus to do something about it. Mark tells us this good man had an impediment. It’s an interesting choice of words. Impediments are literally those things which get in the way of the feet, from the Latin word pedes meaning “foot”. Freedom of movement is so important for us. The older we get, the more anxious we are about anything that could trip us up and cause us to stumble and fall. We have to watch where we’re going. We’ve come to apply this word ‘impediment’ to anything and everything that limits our freedom or our ability to do what we want to do. Jesus removes the barrier to this man’s freedom to hear and speak – Jesus removes his impediment and liberates the man to hear and speak.

People with impediments – with limited ability to see, hear, speak, walk – usually manage to compensate their limitations in amazing ways – they show us such courage, such determination, such ingenuity as they carry on with their lives. They refuse to allow regret or anger or self pity to be an even greater impediment in their determination to live full lives.

The Apostle Paul tells us we are to grow to full maturity in Christ – we are to put on Christ – we are to have the mind of Christ – as Paul said of himself we are to say of ourselves, ‘for me to live is Christ.’

But like Paul we recognize our own limitations – we can say of ourselves what Paul said of himself. ‘the good that I would, that I do not, the evil that I would not do, that I do.’ Our freedom to grow to our personal maturity in Christ is impeded by our own immaturity, insecurity, self centeredness, selfishness. Our lack of faith in God’s love for us, a love that drove God to send His son to the world, not to condemn us but to bring us to life, this lack of faith can be our impediment to growing to that full maturity to which we are called. Our lack of faith, our lack of trust in Christ’s love for us – a love that drove Him to empty Himself of divinity and take to Himself our humanity – becoming as we all are – a love that drove Him to a horrible death on a cross – this lack of trust in such love can be our impediment to growing to that full maturity to which we are called. If we are honest about it there are so many things in our lives that impede our growing, maturing as persons and as Christians – we struggle with anger and resentments over past hurts and betrayals, we struggle with our own passions and dependencies, we have yet to overcome our prejudices towards good people of other cultures, nationalities, religions, life styles – we have difficulties with people, things and ways of thinking that are different from ours.

Because of all these we are impeded from hearing the word of Christ clearly – love one another as I have loved you. We are impeded from speaking with love and respect to other people, we are impeded from seeing the good in other people, in other ways of thinking and living, we are impeded from seeing Christ in the very person in front of us. We are impeded from grasping the depth and the demand of Jesus Who tells us – ‘whatever you do to one of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you do to Me.

As we continue to celebrate this Mass in which we celebrate the liberating death and resurrection of Jesus, we can pray for ourselves and for each other for the grace to face honestly those ways of thinking, acting, living and relating that are our impediments, that trip us up and cause us to stumble in our efforts to put on Christ and be the Christ like people we are called to be. May we be blessed with honesty and courage to recognize our impediments and bring them to Christ trusting He will touch us as He touched the man in the gospel and free us from all that holds us back from growing to that full maturity in Christ to which we are all called.