23rd Sunday Year B
So often we take the gift of hearing and speech so much for granted that we can even allow ourselves to misuse these gifts, especially when we use them to destroy and not build others. These two gifts are our chief means of communicating with other people, and communicating builds and maintains relationships, and relationships should build people. Now, can you imagine how difficult it is for those who are deaf and cannot speak. Often, they find themselves cut out from conversations and not being cared for.
The 'deaf and dumb' man who was brought to Jesus would have known how it felt to 'be left out' and be all on your own. He would have known the embarrassments and misunderstandings that go with his condition. Notice the attention and the great care that Jesus showed in dealing with the needs of this man: Jesus takes him 'aside in private' - away from the crowd. This way Jesus could give the deaf and dumb man His undivided attention. Secondly, knowing that the man is deaf and dumb, Jesus touches his ears and tongue. In this way, Jesus makes the man feel what he could not hear.
What is the relevance of this story for us? Firstly, that gifts of speech and hearing that we have do not make us good communicators or good listeners. With these gifts, we may in fact be worse off than those who do not have them. Example: How often do we hear spouses or children complaining that their partner or parents are not listening to them? Simply because those people fail to hear what the spouse or the child is communicating with them. How many marriages and families have fallen apart because communication and listening cease to happen within those marriages and families? Worse than failing to hear is to have ears and refuse to hear. Or to have the gift of speech and refuse to speak. Like the man in the Gospel story, we also need the Lord's touch. We need to experience His healing touch.
Moreover, we need Jesus to open our ears so we can hear His word and loosen our tongue, so we can profess our faith and proclaim the Good News to each other. Remember what the minister says in the celebration of baptism, while he touches the ears and the mouth of the person being baptized: "The Lord made the deaf hear and the dumb speak. May He soon touch your ears to receive His Word and your mouth to proclaim your faith, to the glory and praise of God the Father."
Lastly, may what we hear with our ears, profess with our lips. And may what we profess with our lips, may we practice in our lives so that we bear fruit in a hundred-fold.
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