Friday, February 12, 2021

"Ephphatha" - "Be opened


Ephphatha - Be opened
I am providing the readings of today Feb 12, 2021 below. The first reading is important because it opens us up to the reflection and then the question: We are going to be opening ourselves up to someone, so just who are you listening to today? The reflection follows the readings.

Reading I Gn 3:1-8

Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the animals that the LORD God had made.

The serpent asked the woman, “Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?”
The woman answered the serpent: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.’”

But the serpent said to the woman: “You certainly will not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is evil.” The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it;

and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

When they heard the sound of the LORD God moving about in the garden at the breezy time of the day, the man and his wife hid themselves from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.


Gospel

Mk 7:31-37

Jesus left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis. And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. 

He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He 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. 
He ordered them not to tell anyone.  But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. They were exceedingly astonished and they said, “He has done all things well. 
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

______________________________________________________

Pope Benedict XVI reflection

“There is not only a physical deafness which largely cuts people off from social life; there is also a "hardness of hearing" where God is concerned, and this is something from which we particularly suffer in our own time. Put simply, we are no longer able to hear God - there are too many different frequencies filling our ears. What is said about God strikes us as pre-scientific, no longer suited to our age. Along with this hardness of hearing or outright deafness where God is concerned, we naturally lose our ability to speak with him and to him. And so we end up losing a decisive capacity for perception. We risk losing our inner senses. This weakening of our capacity for perception drastically and dangerously curtails the range of our relationship with reality in general. The horizon of our life is disturbingly foreshortened...

“The Gospel tells us that Jesus put his fingers in the ears of the deaf-mute, touched the sick man's tongue with spittle and said "Ephphatha" - "Be opened". The Evangelist has preserved for us the original Aramaic word which Jesus spoke, and thus he brings us back to that very moment. What happened then was unique, but it does not belong to a distant past: Jesus continues to do the same thing anew, even today. At our Baptism he touched each of us and said "Ephphatha" - "Be opened" -, thus enabling us to hear God's voice and to be able to talk to him...


“The Gospel invites us to realize that we have a "deficit" in our capacity for perception - initially, we do not notice this deficiency as such, since everything else seems so urgent and logical; since everything seems to proceed normally, even when we no longer have eyes and ears for God and we live without him. But is it true that everything goes on as usual when God no longer is a part of our lives and our world?


“As we gather here, let us here ask the Lord with all our hearts to speak anew his "Ephphatha", to heal our hardness of hearing for God's presence, activity and word, and to give us sight and hearing. Let us ask his help in rediscovering prayer, to which he invites us in the liturgy and whose essential formula he has taught us in the Our Father.” - HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Trying to Understand the Human Person Better

 In the Beginning…' Pope Benedict XVI

In a Lenten sermon given in 1981 in the cathedral of Munich, Germany, “Cardinal” Joseph Ratzinger said the following:


“In the Genesis story that we are considering, still a further characteristic of sin is described. Sin is not spoken of in general as an abstract possibility but as a deed, as the sin of a particular person, Adam, who stands at the origin of humankind and with whom the history of sin begins. The account tells us that sin begets sin, and that therefore all the sins of history are interlinked. Theology refers to this state of affairs by the certainly misleading and imprecise term ‘original sin.’ What does this mean? Nothing seems to us today to be stranger or, indeed, more absurd than to insist upon original sin, since, according to our way of thinking, guilt can only be something very personal, and since God does not run a concentration camp, in which one’s relative are imprisoned, because he is a liberating God of love, who calls each one by name. What does original sin mean, then, when we interpret it correctly?

“Finding an answer to this requires nothing less than trying to understand the human person better. It must once again be stressed that no human being is closed in upon himself or herself and that no one can live of/or for himself or herself alone. We receive our life not only at the moment of birth but every day from without–from others who are not ourselves but who nonetheless somehow pertain to us. Human beings have their selves not only in themselves but also outside of themselves: they live in those whom they love and in those who love them and to whom they are ‘present.’ Human beings are relational, and they possess their lives–themselves–only by way of relationship. I alone am not myself, but only in and with you am I myself. To be truly a human being means to be related in love, to be of and for. But sin means the damaging or the destruction of relationality. Sin is a rejection of relationality because it wants to make the human being a god. Sin is loss of relationship, disturbance of relationship, and therefore it is not restricted to the individual. When I destroy a relationship, then this event–sin–touches the other person involved in the relationship. Consequently sin is always an offense that touches others, that alters the world and damages it. To the extent that this is true, when the network of human relationships is damaged from the very beginning, then every human being enters into a world that is marked by relational damage. At the very moment that a person begins human existence, which is a good, he or she is confronted by a sin-damaged world. Each of us enters into a situation in which relationality has been hurt. Consequently each person is, from the very start, damaged in relationships and does not engage in them as he or she ought. Sin pursues the human being, and he or she capitulates to it.”

(Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, ‘In the Beginning…’: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall, trans. Boniface Ramsey, OP [Eerdmans, 1995], pp. 71-73)


Also see:

BENEDICT XVI GENERAL AUDIENCE Paul VI Audience Hall Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Actually, in opposing their Creator people go against themselves, deny their origin and consequently their truth; and evil, with its painful chain of sorrow and death, enters the world. Moreover, all that God had created was good, indeed, very good, but after man had opted freely for falsehood rather than truth, evil entered the world.

I would like to highlight a final teaching in the accounts of the Creation; sin begets sin and all the sins of history are interconnected. This aspect impels us to speak of what is called “original sin”. What is the meaning of this reality that is not easy to understand? I would just like to suggest a few points. First of all we must consider that no human being is closed in on himself, no one can live solely for himself and by himself; we receive life from the other and not only at the moment of our birth but every day. Being human is a relationship: I am myself only in the “you” and through the “you”, in the relationship of love with the “you” of God and the “you” of others. Well, sin is the distortion or destruction of the relationship with God, this is its essence: it ruins the relationship with God, the fundamental relationship, by putting ourselves in God’s place.


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Opportunity to be Patient


Enjoy this video clip from the movie, Evan Almighty, where the waiter, Al Mighty, played by Morgan Freeman, explains prayer as, 'God providing opportunities'. What are we going to do with the opportunities in our life?

·         Joan: Excuse me. Can I get a refill please? 

 

·         God: Coming right up. 

 

·         Joan: Thank you. 

 

·         God: Excuse me. Are you alright? 

 

·         Joan: Yeah. (God looks at her unconvinced.) No. It’s a long story. 

 

·         God: Well, I like stories. I’m considered a bit of a storyteller myself. 

 

·         Joan: My husband… Have you heard of New York’s Noah? 

 

·         God: (Chuckling) The guy who’s building the ark. 

 

·         Joan: That’s him. 

 

·         God: I love that story, Noah and the Ark. You know, a lot of people miss the point of that story. They think it’s about God’s wrath and anger. They love it when God gets angry. 

 

·         Joan: What is the story about, then? The ark? 

 

·         God: Well, I think it’s a love story about believing in each other. You know, the animals showed up in pairs. They stood by each other, side by side, just like Noah and his family. Everybody entered the ark side by side. 

 

·         Joan: But my husband says God told him to do it. What do you do with that? 

 

·         God: Sounds like an opportunity. Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If they pray for courage, does God give them courage, or does he give them opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for their family to be closer, you think God zaps them with warm, fuzzy feelings? Or does he give them opportunities to love each other? Well, I got to run, a lot of people to serve. Enjoy. 


Friday, January 15, 2021

Neighours (1952) - A Film by Norman McLaren

 


Erik Buys writes in his blog, Mimetic Margins:

In 1952, Scottish-born Canadian film director and animator Norman McLaren (1914-1987) released his hugely acclaimed short film Neighbours. It won both a Canadian Film Award and an Academy Award, and has been designated as a ‘masterwork’ by the Audio-Visual Preservation Trust of Canada. Moreover, in 2009, the film was added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme. Neighbours is a revolutionary piece of art, both in content and in style. McLaren is a master in using the so-called pixilation, an animation technique which treats live actors as stop-motion objects. As for the content, Neighbours can be considered an anti-war statement. 

Asked about the inspiration for his film, McLaren answered: I was inspired to make Neighbours by a stay of almost a year in the People’s Republic of China. Although I only saw the beginnings of Mao’s revolution, my faith in human nature was reinvigorated by it. Then I came back to Quebec and the Korean War began. My sympathies were divided at that time. I felt myself to be as close to the Chinese people as I felt proud of my status as a Canadian. I decided to make a really strong film about anti-militarism and against war.”

The film clearly demonstrates the mimetic origin of rivalry and its escalation into violence. Two neighbours, living together peacefully and enjoying shared interests, become each other’s rivals once they both lay claim on a flower. The film plainly depicts they not only pay attention to this object, but also that they increasingly keep an eye on each other until, finally, the attention for the object completely disappears. As they imitate each other’s claims and try to manifest themselves over against one another, the object is even destroyed during the process.

Neighbours not only ironically reveals that one’s desire for prestige, pride and power is actually based on nothing (but an imitation of another’s desire), but it also shows the tragic and horrifying, shocking outcome of escalated mimetic rivalry. The former friends are tricked into becoming each other’s monstrous doubles. The Latin word praestigia means deception or illusion and it indeed points to the misleading nature of mimetic desire.