September 6, 2009
ORDINARY 23 (B)
Be Opened! – Mark 7: 34
Deafness did not just isolate this fellow from other humans. According to Roman law, the deaf were declared mentally incompetent. So restoring his hearing gave him back his legal identity as a whole human being. In one important aspect, we are so very much like him today! We’ve become so enraptured with the noise, speed, & spiritual pollution of our individualistic, hedonistic society that we’ve become deaf to the still, small voice of God in our lives. We might indeed be considered spiritually incompetent!
A deaf person who suddenly recovers his hearing is likely to find exposure to the world of sound a frightening experience. During the adjustment period it is not uncommon for the cured person to seek to return to the world of silence. It takes time & conditioning to learn how to interpret sounds, how to distinguish between those which threaten & those which do not – in other words, to learn how to listen. Being born with the ability to hear is not of our own doing, but the ability to listen is an art we must develop ourselves.
Now, the analogy breaks down in two ways: our spiritual deafness is our own doing, & we must learn to tune into different wave lengths, as it were. For us the challenge is learning to listen to the sounds of silence. For this man to hear again, Jesus had to take him apart from the crowd. For the most part, God leaves noisy, flashy demonstrations of power to the devil. He prefers the quiet,
unpretentious method of implementing God’s will. Miracle mongering is for the spiritually immature.
Power is explosive & tries to dominate by force. Strength, on the other hand, simply holds fast to the truth, knowing that the truth will outlast the lie. Jesus consistently exhibited a steady strength, an inner rootedness & certainty that could defy the vagaries of circumstances. It was His inner life, rooted in His Father, that guided His outside behavior – not the other way around. It gave Him the perseverance to turn negative situations into positive ones.
Our Lord’s strength comes from his consciousness of being loved by God & being the bearer of the Holy Spirit into a world of suffering & alienation. The intriguing thing is His quest to give this strength to others & in so doing restore them to their God-given status as children of God. Our spiritual deafness has deprived us of that, & therein lies the tragedy of our contemporary society.
We need to make whatever adjustments in our lives that may be necessary to allow the voice of forgiveness & compassion to penetrate our souls. We must resist the temptations to return to the old sounds of vengeance, retribution & hate, to acquire money & things at the expense of honesty & decency in human relationships. And guess what! The more we listen to Him & allow ourselves to be healed by Him, the closer we will get to one another. That is the greatest miracle of all. AMEN!