Have you ever felt a sense of lack in your life, brothers and sisters, a feeling of incompleteness, of something missing?
The readings today all express that sense of lack, and the promise that the Lord will fill that lack. Our first readings describe those who are blind, deaf, lame and mute – all people who are missing one or other faculty – sight, hearing, mobility and speech. The readings go on to talk about deserts and wildernesses lacking water, rendering them desolate and bleak, lifeless. These are all images to describe a people without God. Without God at the center of our lives, we are like those who are blind, deaf, lame and mute, lacking life. Because God is the source of all life, freedom, joy, peace and love.
Psalm 34: 10 declares that “those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” When we have God at the center of our lives, we are filled with life, freedom, joy, peace and love – every good thing. Contrary to what the world believes, riches, possession, power and fame are not necessarily “good things.” We all know about people who had all these things and yet were desperately unhappy, seeking to fill their emptiness with drugs, alcohol, sex,toys. Freddy Mercury, lead singer of the top rock band, Queen, a man who had everything money could buy, died alone and of AIDS, speaking at the end of his life of being so lonely and deprived of love.
St Augustine wrote that God has made us for himself, and we will know no rest until we come to rest in him. He also wrote that “there is a God-shaped vacuum in every person that only Christ can fill”. To try to fill that lack, that void, that vacuum, with worldly things will not work. They are simply not big enough for the task. That is the bad news. The good news is that God created that God-shaped hole within each of us, because He intends to fill it, with Himself, if we will let him, if we will allow him to enter into our lives and be the one at the center , on the throne of our hearts.
So our responsorial psalm declares that it is the Lord “who keeps faith for ever, who gives food to the hungry, who sets the prisoners free, who opens the eyes of the blind, and lifts up those who are bowed down, who watches over the strangers, and upholds the orphan and the widow.”. The reason why Jesus did all those miracles in the gospels was to declare that He alone isthe Lord, and that God’s desires are His also. He declared , in Luke chapter 4 ,verse 18ff, that the Spirit of God was upon him to “bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free”. That is why our gospel today shows Jesus healing a man who is deaf and lacking full speech capability. It is why other gospel stories show Jesus feeding 5000 hungry people, forgiving a paralytic his sins, and then healing him from his paralysis, healing a woman with severe haemorrhages, or casting out demons from a possessed man, In other words, wherever He encounters a lack in a person’s life, He wants to come and fill that lack . I preached last week that we should “mind the gaps” in our lives, because they are a sign of incompleteness, they are areas in our lives that are desolate and lifeless, loveless, joy-less , because they are not filled with God, with Christ.
I have shared in the past how at the age of 18, I was utterly miserable, torn by deep anxiety and fears, my heart black with anger and hatred. Even though I had been raised a Catholic, and been baptized and confirmed and still going to church, I was just not happy. There was a big black hole in my heart. That was because , although God was in my life, He was very much on the periphery, in the margins, not at the center of my life, my heart. When I could not tolerate that pit of miserableness within me anymore, I prayed out of desperation for Jesus to come into the centre of my heart. Jesus showed me that He was not able to do that, because the centre of my heart was filled with anger and hatred towards my father, and before he could occupy that place, I had first to expel all that anger and hatred , by releasing forgiveness towards my dad. When Jesus asks you to forgive someone, it means he is releasing grace to you to be able to do that. I received that grace, forgave my father, and that big ball of poison within me dropped out of my heart and a rush of incredible joy flowed into my heart instead . Suddenly light, love, joy, peace took over that place in my heart that had before then had been filled with darkness , bitterness and misery. Since then , though I have often been tempted , in the face of life’s traumas and hurts, to let that blackness back into my heart, I have always resisted that invasion by the devil, I have tried to release forgiveness when hurt, and confessed to God any time I have allowed someone or something else to take over temporarily the throne of my heart .
So I come back to the question I asked at the beginning of my homily , brothers and sisters, if you felt a sense of lack, of something missing in your life? If so, check if Jesus is really reigning on the throne of your heart or not. If not, or if we have allowed him to slip from that place of Lordship over our life, over all of our life, I invite you to repeat with me this prayer that I have prayed with you before, inviting Jesus to be the center and Lord of our heart.