Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sep 1, 2021 | Gospel Reflections

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Sister Eileen Burns, SNDdeN

September 5, 2021

Mark 7: 31 – 37

We meet a deaf person with a speech impediment in today’s gospel. I know a woman – perhaps she is reading this now – who was hearing impaired. Because she had never “heard” sounds the way we do, her speech was slightly different. She had an operation in early adulthood and found the world very loud! She needed to adjust to her new reality and it took some effort. It also opened so much possibility in her life.

It is such a gift to be able to hear sounds and we often take it for granted. Our ability to listen opens up so much for us. I got hearing aids six years ago. My hearing test revealed that I wasn’t tracking end consonant sounds correctly. This left me partially guessing what was being said to me and trying to use the context to find the right word that I thought I was hearing. I came to realize how much I was studying someone’s lips to try to decide what she or he was saying. It surprised me to learn that hearing aids also improved my balance. They aren’t perfect – it can still be hard to listen to someone when there is a lot of background noise. But they have been such a help for me.

Others brought the deaf person to Jesus in today’s gospel and begged Jesus to intercede. It was when they were alone together that Jesus says “Ephphatha!” that is “Be opened!” I once spent a quiet week of prayer focused on that one word.How is Jesus calling to us today to “Be opened”?

Are there places in your life that you are closed to others, to the beauty in God’s creation, to living justly and loving tenderly as you walk your own unique spiritual path in relationship with our God of goodness? “Ephphatha!”

We can’t be discouraged if we are saying yes to God’s invitation to open up and yet feel disoriented at first. It may not feel comfortable and familiar like my friend above. We can also be naïve and forget that life involves suffering as well as joys. Yet, being open to what God sends us is so enriching and life changing. Practice “Ephphatha!” this week and see what happens for you.



Mark 7: 31 – 37

Again 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.”

The Gospel of the Lord


Meet Sister Eileen Burns, SNDdeN

Sr. Eileen Burns is a member of the SND East West Province Leadership Team in the USA. She lives in Lawrence, Massachusetts where Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur have continuously lived and ministered since 1854. Eileen has degrees in biology and ministry with a focus in justice and peace. She has ministered in schools, parishes and agencies especially with immigrants to the USA.