By Most Rev. Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton

Monday, September 7, 2015

We Need Help to Change

On Sunday I joined with the Vietnamese Catholics of Queen of Martyrs parish to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving for their new Church. Acquired from a parish that had previously called it home, the Church has now been beautifully transformed inside. From the outside it looks the same as it has for many years. Inside the change is quite dramatic.

I suggested to the people gathered for Mass that this is reflective of what the Lord wishes to bring about in all of us - interior transformation. We might look the same externally, but a new heart is given to us whenever we encounter Jesus Christ and allow him to bring about change within. We shall see things differently and relate to both persons and events in new ways. Thus will an interior change cause a ripple effect of transformation around us.

And, oh, how such change is desperately needed! In school visits I meet young - very young - students struggling with anxiety and depression. Threats continue to mount everywhere against the dignity of human life from beginning to natural end. In my city, and countless others, families are hurting from poverty and violence. Especially traumatic these days is the heartrending plight of millions of displaced persons who have fled from violence in Syria and elsewhere, many hundreds of thousands of whom are on the move toward what they hope will be a better life. This cannot be our status quo!!!!! Change must come!

But how? Change will happen when we allow ourselves to be changed. I'm using the passive voice here deliberately. It is clear that we are unable to change ourselves. We need to be changed. And that is precisely what the Lord Jesus wants to bring about. The lesson of the Gospel of Sunday is that we are called to bring to Jesus our inability to change and ask him to bring about the needed transformation of our hearts. The Gospel account centres upon an encounter between Jesus and a man who is deaf and unable to speak. Clearly, the man is incapable of changing his inabilities. When he comes to Jesus, though, the change happens; it is the Lord who opens his ears and unstops his tongue.

In so many ways the world has grown deaf to the Word of God. We listen to voices that keep us centred upon ourselves and ignorant of the needs of others. In countless circumstances where we have the opportunity to speak only what is good and helpful, to defend what we know to be true from our faith, do we instead find our tongues silent, made mute by fear of being ridiculed for our belief.

As Jesus said to the deaf man may he say today to us: Ephphatha! Be opened! Open Lord, our ears, eyes and hearts, set free both our minds and our tongues, transform us entirely from within, so that we may be agents of the transformation you will to bring about throughout the world.