Is 35:4-7; James 2:1-5; Mark 7:31-37
Cardinal Sin, as told in the homily of Bishop Bacani, tells the story of a blind vendor selling some candies and other items on a sidewalk during the Christmas season. As people were rushing, her “bilao” (bamboo tray) was bumped. She tried to grope for her wares. Nobody seemed to mind her as they hurried past her. Then a man stopped and then stooped to pick up her things and returned them to her in her bilao. She asked the kind gentleman, “Are you Christ?”
Yes, this good gentleman, for this blind woman, was Christ. There are many opportunities given to us by which we are faced with people who need help, but how often do we respond? Let us be more vigilant for those opportunities and allow Christ to reach out, through us, to others in need by the love we show.
In today’s gospel, a deaf-mute approach Jesus and pleaded him to heal him. But Jesus took him off by himself away from the crowd. Our Lord could have cured him right in front of the people. It is because he knew the situation of the deaf-mute. He showed his tenderness and wanted to get involve and have interest in the situation of the person. In other words, he is compassionate and sympathetic to the plight of this deaf person.
Why in that way does Jesus do the miracle, taking away the person from the people’s eyes?” It is likely that the deaf person has developed an inferiority complex because of his handicap. Deaf-mute persons are normally shy because they can hardly communicate and in this sense they are incommunicado. People can be impatient with them and can laugh at their impediment. Most of the times, we are not sympathetic to the plight of the deaf-mute. We find their gestures and sign language comical and even annoying. While the blind are able to relate with others through conversations, listening to the radio, attending talks and even reading books in Braille, the deaf-mute are almost completely cut off from society. They have no part in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Good and loving they may be, but they are unable to share their love and goodness with others.
Thus, it is understandable that individuals who are deaf-mute are not comfortable in the presence of many people. Christ recognized this special need that He took time to be alone with this deaf-mute person. In this way, the man would not be embarrassed and can still receive the loving assurance of Christ.
The story of the healing of the deaf-mute person is our story too. There is hardly any organ in our dealing with God stressed so much as our ear. We shall hear, not so much see or speak. God has given us two ears but only one mouth. It is because we have to listen to God always. True listening will result in praising the Lord and in prayer. If we do not manage a good prayer, it’s probably because we do not listen enough.
It is not only this person and a pagan too who was a deaf-mute. Many of us Christians live with the same handicap. As one priest said that we are deaf to the Word of God. The complaint of the Old Testament that people’s heart is hardened is still valid today. We so easily believed we are good Christians because we have adopted some religious practices. We have our devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help but we have no friendly word for the lady next door. We have enthroned the Sacred of Jesus in our home but we have no heart for the loser. We have the statue of the Santo Nino in our store but cheat our customers in the quality and quantity of our merchandise. Anyway, good devotions help us to listen better to God’s voice and influence our conscience to make the right decisions. Being a member of the universal church means being open to all the teachings of our church including social justice, to be open to all the goodness planted in the heart of people belonging to other religions or cultures.
That word of Jesus “Ephphatha!” (‘Be opened!’), is a very important word for each one of us. As Bishop Bacani asked that how many evils others are perpetrating in our society by us and by others and we don’t seem to mind. We hear no evil see no evil. We pretend not to see or hear the evil around us especially when we are also the beneficiaries of the wrong acts. Like for example, during election, we vote those candidates who are not worthy of the positions and have bad track records because we benefited some of their “graces”. How many needs there are that are crying for our attention and yet we don’t hear the cries of the poor and don’t see their needs. We feel that we have too many problems already. Better keep our ears, eyes and mouth shut and our hands too!
One priest suggested that to really listen requires more silence than words, more adoration than study and more faith than reason. To listen, we must be quiet; to receive we must be ready; to receive the Word of God we must switch off all the other sounds. And this is not easy. It is not easy perhaps for all of us to maintain externally, to keep that inner, constructive, and creative eager silence that waits for the Lord. How many of us can really pray and really mean the prayer of Samuel: “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” Let us do this now immediately for one minute or five minutes or half an hour or an hour if we have the time. It is essential that we provide these conditions: the readiness of the ears to listen, the heart to love and the life truly desiring for God. It is not a matter of God failing to communicate with us but we, rather failing to allow God to speak to us. His tender whispers of love fall on deaf ears. Human ears had often been desensitized by the distractions of the world, the busyness of life and the hardness of the heart.
Today, Christ wants to open our eyes and ears to the evils not only around us but also in ourselves and to the needs of our fellow human beings who need our understanding, material things and respond with Christ’s compassion and love.
Today’s Readings: Cycle B