I saw the funny side of this picture. A sign of the times we live in. Somewhat opposite to the message of last Sunday’s passage, Nothing that goes into a man from outside can make him unclean; it is the things that come out of a man that make him unclean”. The threat from this virus is backing us into a corner, pushing us deeper inside ourselves to reflect upon life, particularly on what we can make clean. It is a time for renewal so that we can embrace this time ‘to live life differently’.

“‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’” (Today’s Gospel)

The key is deep inside us. Some of us do not want to open that door. Behind it are things of our past. They may be filled with disappointment, anger, hurt, bitterness and unforgiveness. They may be in the way for us ‘to live life differently’. The past can cripple us spiritually, like the man in today’s passage, we are blind to see, deaf to hear, and dumb to proclaim the Risen Christ in our personal life. “Ephphatha”.

One of the keys to spiritual rehabilitation is to verbalise. Events in our past may seem like random, isolated happenings. They disrupted our grand plan of life and led us down a different route. Mostly it took us to places we did not want to go. Experiences make or break us. Spiritually, they only make us. Events in our past are all interlinked. If today, we are in a better place and shape despite a difficult past, then verbalising it may help us see, hear and proclaim the Risen Christ with us.

One of the more practical ways to verbalise is to establish a small group of trusted friends. To this small group we can open that door and talk about it. Verbalising, and having people listen to us is helpful. They can lift a burden off us. Retracing our past, joining the dots together, help us uncover the many blessings in disguise that we received. Together, we point out for one another, the then hidden presence of Christ in the episodes of our life. Like the deaf man, we can then be touched.

“Say to all faint hearts, ‘Courage! Do not be afraid. Look, your God is coming, vengeance is coming, the retribution of God; he is coming to save you.’” (First reading)

Yes, indeed we need courage to re-visit our past. But the touch of Christ heals. “For water gushes in the desert, streams in the wasteland, the scorched earth becomes a lake, the parched land springs of water”. This can happen in the desert and wasteland of our past. The scorched earth will become fertile ground for us to grow into who God wants us to become and go forth ‘to live life differently’.

To live life differently, as our Pope says, is to spread this pandemic of love. When we are restored by his touch, it is for us to go out to touch others. In last Sunday’s second reading we are shown the way, “Be doers of the Word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves”.

Today, we probably sanitize our hands more often in a day then we make the sign of the cross. It is OK as we are reminded not to be like the Pharisees. As we sanitise our hands, we are inclined to think only for our own safety. So, when we begin to sanitise our hands thinking first for the safety of the other before our self, then we are truly making the sign of the cross.

22nd and 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time