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Bible Reflections View Comments

Reclaiming a Sense of Wonder
By Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, September 9, 2012
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Too many of us have lost our ability to marvel. We get busy, we get practical, we narrow our focus to what has to be done. Before long, practicality gives way to cynicism. Some of this takes place naturally as we grow out of childhood. Some of it is a result of too much education. Like the child who sees through the magician’s trick and is then disappointed and disillusioned, we become too accustomed to explaining away what might seem miraculous with very practical explanations.

Even children today have become so accustomed to special effects in movies that they assume that most things have some sort of technological foundation. They don’t even realize that those very technologies should be the stuff of wonder and amazement, at least for a little while. The fact that we can watch movies on a device that fits in the palm of one hand was unthinkable even fifty years ago.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus heals a man suffering the loss of both hearing and speech. Many of the miracles recorded in the Gospels involve a restoration of sight or hearing. In fact, according to the prophets, these are two signs of the messianic age. Isaiah proclaims in the first reading that when God brings salvation to the people, “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing.” So it’s no wonder that the people of Jesus’s day recognized in his actions the fulfillment of this great promise.

We’ve largely consigned healing to the medical profession. We rarely connect it with faith or miracles. This isn’t all bad. Advances in medicine and technology since the first century have made it possible for countless people to regain sight, hearing, and mobility. But it would be a mistake to lose the connection to the God who still moves through the wonders of modern medicine. The divine hand might not be as direct as it was when Jesus was putting his fingers into the deaf man’s ears, but make no mistake: It’s still there in the hands of the doctors and nurses.

Jesus tells the people not to talk about his healing of the man in today’s Gospel. We might take this to mean that we’re not supposed to talk about our religious experiences. Nothing could be further from the truth. But Jesus wants them to understand the whole picture. He wants them to appreciate that the wonder is not necessarily in the physical healing, as though it were some kind of magic trick, but rather in the fullness of who Jesus is.

One thing that hasn’t changed since the time of Jesus: Too often we still leave the proclamation of the Good News to the religious professionals. In doing so, we lose some of the wonder of a direct experience of God’s hand moving in our own lives and in the lives of those we touch. Whether we reflect on the natural miracle of the physical senses or on the deeper significance of being able to hear and proclaim the word of God, today’s Gospel reminds us that God wants us to be able to live our lives to the fullest extent possible.

The Incarnation set in motion a return to this fullness, the original blessing of creation. More than anything else, today’s readings encourage us to let ourselves be amazed at the wonder that surrounds us each and every day.



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Athanasius: Athanasius led a tumultuous but dedicated life of service to the Church. He was the great champion of the faith against the widespread heresy of Arianism, the teaching by Arius that Jesus was not truly divine. The vigor of his writings earned him the title of doctor of the Church. 
<p>Born of a Christian family in Alexandria, Egypt, and given a classical education, Athanasius became secretary to Alexander, the bishop of Alexandria, entered the priesthood and was eventually named bishop himself. His predecessor, Alexander, had been an outspoken critic of a new movement growing in the East—Arianism. </p><p>When Athanasius assumed his role as bishop of Alexandria, he continued the fight against Arianism. At first it seemed that the battle would be easily won and that Arianism would be condemned. Such, however, did not prove to be the case. The Council of Tyre was called and for several reasons that are still unclear, the Emperor Constantine exiled Athanasius to northern Gaul. This was to be the first in a series of travels and exiles reminiscent of the life of St. Paul. </p><p>After Constantine died, his son restored Athanasius as bishop. This lasted only a year, however, for he was deposed once again by a coalition of Arian bishops. Athanasius took his case to Rome, and Pope Julius I called a synod to review the case and other related matters. </p><p>Five times Athanasius was exiled for his defense of the doctrine of Christ’s divinity. During one period of his life, he enjoyed 10 years of relative peace—reading, writing and promoting the Christian life along the lines of the monastic ideal to which he was greatly devoted. His dogmatic and historical writings are almost all polemic, directed against every aspect of Arianism. </p><p>Among his ascetical writings, his<i> Life of St. Anthony</i> (January 17) achieved astonishing popularity and contributed greatly to the establishment of monastic life throughout the Western Christian world.</p> American Catholic Blog Suffering is redemptive in part because it definitively reveals to man that he is not in fact God, and it thereby opens the human person to receive the divine.

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