Striving for Deeper Holiness: September 5, 2021


23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Friends, blessings from Saint Clement. Be open, ephpheta. That's the powerful word that Jesus uses in healing the deaf man and enabling him to speak again and to hear. Ephpheta, be open. Perhaps that is the prayer of Jesus for each and every one of us as we begin this fall season. Perhaps the prayer of Jesus for you and for me, for his followers is, "Ephpheta, be open," that we'll be open. We'll be open to what God puts before us, what God invites us into. Still in the midst of this global pandemic, perhaps this invitation, this powerful prayer of Jesus, "Ephpheta, be open," is an invitation of Jesus for us to be open to our community, to people around us who especially need our help through the Love Your Neighbor ministry. Perhaps this word "ephpheta" is an invitation for all our school families to encourage your children to become part of our children's choir or altar server ministry. "Ephpheta" is perhaps an invitation for you who would think you'd never do any formation program because you didn't have any good experience before with it, but yet maybe God will open your heart and you will sign up for one of our online or in-person Alpha courses this fall.

"Ephpheta". Perhaps it will be an invitation of opening your heart for the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. For the first time, you actually will long to be here on Sunday to worship with a community that loves you and, together ,to join in the prayer of Jesus of praise to his Father in heaven. "Ephpheta". Perhaps it will be an invitation for us to just make a next step, perhaps by registering to become an active member of the parish, or simply looking for a ministry in which you can utilize your God-given gifts and talents. In many ways, what I always hear from folks is that they love to get engaged, but they find a hard time finding time. But I pray that you really take to your heart the prayer of Jesus, "Ephpheta, be open." Be open for the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Rather than looking at what you cannot do, ask God what you can do by his power. If you think, "Boy, I cannot fit into my schedule a course on faith or coming to church on Sunday or praying more with my family. I just cannot do it," take it to prayer. Rather than trying to fix it yourself, ask God to fix it with you. Ask the Holy Spirit to inform your decision before you make it and you will be amazed by "ephpheta", by how the prayer of Jesus, by how the power of the Holy Spirit makes the impossible possible, how God will work in your life and lead you to a new place.

Perhaps for the women of our parish, this will be the Lydia Institute for professional women, an invitation to join other professional women in community and in learning more about faith, but also supporting one another. "Ephpheta". My prayer is that as a community and as a church this month, this year, we will find ourselves open, constantly open to the movement of the Holy Spirit, so as we accompany each other in faith, we'll find in God's presence, peace, new energy, and hope that we so much need in our world today. God bless you all!