Ephphatha: How are they they hear the Gospel? Homily for Friday of the 5th Week in Ordinary Time, Cycle 1

Ephphatha: How are they they hear the Gospel? Homily for Friday of the 5th Week in Ordinary Time, Cycle 1

By: Fr. Joe Fessenden February 10, 2017


I preached this homily at Notre Dame Seminary on Friday, February 10, 2017. I am preaching on Mark 7:31-37.


I would like to focus for a few minutes on the deaf man. I want to present him as a type of baptism.

Notice he did not come to Jesus on his own. He was brought. His deafness was to the Word of God, so he could neither hear nor speak God’s word. Why? He did not know it. He is a type of the nations – those who have never heard the Gospel. As Paul says (And Augustine quotes), “How are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?” (Rom 10:14, Augustine’s Confessions Ch. 1). Even though Genesis says that, after they ate the fruit, their eyes were opened, we know, in another way, they were blinded – Sin had been introduced to man; his intellect was darkened and his will weakened.

That’s where we come in. We are those people who bring the man to Jesus. We preach the Gospel. And, here, I’m not just talking to the seminarians (especially since most of them seem to have gone to the St. Rita Mass, so they’re not here). Every single one of us is included in that commission to evangelize, to preach the Gospel to all nations.

What did they do, though? This is the example of what we must do. They did not just preach to him. They didn’t tell him about Jesus. They didn’t just teach him. They brought him to an encounter with Jesus Christ. If all we ever do is talk about our own encounter, no one will be converted. We see that over and over again in Scripture. Andrew brings Peter to Jesus. The men lower the paralytic through the roof to encounter Jesus. Paul, though he knows his faith better than anyone, persecutes the faith until his own encounter with Jesus.

For most of us, our parents brought us to that first encounter in our baptism when we were babies. The priest (or deacon), echoing this story itself, touched our ears and mouth and echoed this story.

  • So the man’s ears were opened. His tongue was loosened.
  • Our heart was enlightened and the darkness of original sin was removed.
  • The man was commanded to remain silent, but he proclaimed what had been done for him to everyone who would listen.
  • We are commanded to “Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19). Yet, how often we remain silent or, perhaps worse, get in the way and bring people to ourselves instead of the encounter with Christ that will bring them to conversion.

“The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the dumb speak. May he … touch your ears to receive his word, and your mouth to proclaim his faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father.” (Rite of Baptism)

History and Theology of the Mass

History and Theology of the Mass

By: Fr. Joe Fessenden October 8, 2016


Over the last four weeks here at Saint Edward, I taught a 4-part class on the Mass for any interested adults in the parish. I figured I’d share them here.

Here is the handout I created for the class: Mass Class Handout

The example of Saint Francis Homily for the Memorial of Saint Francis

The example of Saint Francis Homily for the Memorial of Saint Francis

By: Fr. Joe Fessenden October 4, 2016


I preached this homily on October 4, 2016, at Saint Edward Church in Nashville, Tennessee. The kids were off on fall break, so I was just preaching to the adults, this time. That’s important since, otherwise, this would have been a homily for Kindergarten through fourth grade.

God has declared open war – we are the foot soldiers Homily for the Feast of the Archangels

I preached this homily at St. Edward Church in Nashville, Tennessee to the kindergarten through 8th grade (and any other parishioners who happened to be attending daily Mass). Continue readingGod has declared open war – we are the foot soldiers Homily for the Feast of the Archangels

We must put the same effort into our spiritual lives Homily for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

The Prodigal Son: We must take the first step Homily for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Even the demons believe that and tremble Homily for Tuesday of the 22nd Week of Ordinary Time

I preached this at the school Mass for St. Edward School in Nashville, TN. I realize this one is a little basic; I was preaching to the kindergarten through 4th grade at the school. Continue readingEven the demons believe that and tremble Homily for Tuesday of the 22nd Week of Ordinary Time