The Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center is one of my favorite places. I so look forward to returning annually to revitalize that space within where my true self and God’s love dwells. I have found over the years and not unexpectedly, that I become most aware of His presence when I enter the weekends with no expectations for a specific outcome but rather an openness and a listening heart. I remember one such moment in 2018 before the morning bell.
I got up early that day and made my way to the gazebo nestled against the hills where cars can be seen but not heard. I sat down by myself to ponder the beauty of God’s creation around me. I listened and watched with a smile as a single quail graced a corner beam repeating a most beautiful sound. Soon, two hummingbirds approached the quail in what seemed to be a choreographed dance only they can do while the melody continued. I sat in awe watching for some time until the birds (all three of them) flew away in the same direction and together. I spent the rest of the weekend pondering what I had just witnessed. What was God saying to me? Had He just invited me to be opened, to truly listen?
In our Gospel this weekend, we read of a deaf man who is cured of his affliction at the hands of Jesus and his spoken word, “Ephphatha” meaning “Be opened.” By doing so, Jesus tore down the barriers that kept the man from living life to the fullest. I suspect this is at least one of the lessons for me as I continue to reflect on what I witnessed that morning.
Each of us is provided opportunities throughout our lifetime to be opened to God’s message of love and life. The fact that we all have a chance to witness His message differently shows the perfection in this great plan. For you, perhaps you will become more open when looking through the eyes of a loved one, in serving the poor and oppressed, or while participating in many of Padre Serra’s Ministries. Great news is that you do not have to limit yourself to just one such event.