23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (9 Sept.)

It was a great opportunity from the far side of the globe to be able to watch, via the internet, some of the Pope’s visit to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families, and to hear a little of what he said. Of course, there was also the discussions and debates about what was said and not said, much of which was not worthy of pondering. But what was, for me, worthy of pondering came at the Festival of Families in Croke Park in the words of Leonard Cohen’s Anthem – “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

Cracks and crumbling walls are not obvious welcome sights. Yet, we have seen them occur in so many sacredly held institutions, religious and secular. The light that has rushed through the cracks have shown up the corruption hidden in the darkness behind the well-kept walls. We may not like what the light exposes to our eyes, but we must be grateful that it is finally revealed. That which is closed up tends to become musty and moldy. Healthy growth requires openness to light and air.

“Be opened!” we hear Jesus exclaim today in Mark’s Gospel. Yes, he is giving the gifts of hearing and speech to a man who needed both. But he is doing more than that. He is living the reign of God, opening ears, opening eyes, opening hearts, opening minds, and letting the light of God pour in through the opened space. In the Old Testament reading, the prophet Isaiah speaks of this same openness and upheaval of order when God comes with vindication and divine recompense to save. The reign of God cannot come among us without the disturbance of the old order which seeks shade from its light. The Magnificat prayer makes that clear. We must be grateful that the light of God’s vindication and divine recompense is dawning on us with healing for the wounded and the ‘wounder’.

Leonard Cohen said about his lyrics, “…there is a crack in everything that you can put together: physical objects, mental objects, constructions of any kind. But that’s where the light gets in, and that’s where the resurrection is…where the return,…where the repentance is. It is with the confrontation, with the brokenness of things.”

Rather than judge the obvious atrocities, may we pray for cracks in our own defenses, so that the divine light of upheaval and healing, of death and resurrection may open us to the new life of God’s reign.

Elizabeth Ferguson, OP

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