06 September 2009

THE TOUCH OF HIS HAND

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mk 7:31-37


An old, dusty violin was up for auction. Its starting price was a mere $3.00 only. Despite it being cheap, nobody was attracted to it. From nowhere, an old, grey-haired man approached the violin, held it up, dusted it, and started to play music with it.

The old, grey-haired man and the old and dusty violin soon filled the whole auction hall with sweet, enchanting music. When the man finished the piece, the price of the old, dusty violin started to jump to thousands of dollars.

What transformed the old and dusty violin? What is the reason for the sudden rise in the bidding? Myra Brooks Welch answers: “The touch of the master’s hand.”

In her poem, entitled “The Touch of the Master’s Hand,” Ms. Welch says:

“And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap, to a thoughtless crowd,
Much like the old violin.

“But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can understand
The worth of a soul, and the change that’s wrought
By the Touch of the Master’s Hand.”

The three readings today may well be linked together by this one theme.

In the first reading, the Prophet Isaiah paints for us the picture of the wonderful things that the hand of God will do for His People. The eyes of the blind will open. The ears of the deaf will be unsealed. The lame will leap like the deer. The mute will sing for joy. The burning sands of the desert will become springs of water. Thus, the prophet’s advice: Do not be afraid. Do not loose heart. Courage!

In the second reading, James the Apostle teaches us that we should not relate with people on the basis of their external appearances or on the basis of their status in life. We should imitate God who is generous to all but whose hands favor the poor of this world. The apostle tells us that the poor of this world will grow rich in faith and inherit the kingdom promised by God to those who love Him.

In the gospel, the cure of the deaf and mute person tells us that the very hand of God is Jesus Himself. Whoever Jesus touches, God touches. Jesus is God-touching-us. Through Jesus, God touches us to heal us, to make us whole, to renew us, and to transform us.

The hand of God continues touching us even today. Through the sacraments, the hand of God reaches out to us to touch us and heal us. Through the Sacred Scripture, the hand of God gives us either a pat of approval or a tap of reminder. Jesus is the Sacrament of the Father and the Word the Sacred Scripture proclaims.

We are not only touched by the hand of God. As members of the Mystical Body of Christ who is the Hand of God, we, too, collectively and individually, are hands of God. Jesus continues touching people through us. Are our hands the hands of Jesus?

Open your hearts. Ephphatha!
Open your hands. Ephphatha!
Open your eyes. Ephphatha!
Open your ears. Ephphatha!
And open whatever doors kept shut between you and your neighbor. Ephphatha! How long will you keep those doors locked?

In the hands of the old maetro, the old and dusty violin can become new again. In his hands, whatever kind of violin can produce an enchanting music. That which is neglected is treasured again. That which otherwise is trash becomes valuable again.

When I was a kid, one of my favorite tales was about a man whose touch was likewise truly amazing. He was a king. He was King Midas. Everything he touched became gold. However, he was not for real. Jesus, instead, is very real. Whatever and whoever Jesus touches become more precious than gold. How about us – are we real, too? And what become of those we touch?

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