September 9, 2012
ORDINARY 23 (B)
Immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. – Mark 7: 35
There was a woman whose husband had an ongoing problem. For 35 years she lived with this man who never seemed to be able to express himself clearly. He was a master of confusing the issue. His words were always open to two or more interpretations. When she finally died, her husband’s problem followed her to the grave. He gave the stonemason the following instructions: “I want ‘Rest in Peace’ on both sides. Then, if there is enough room, ‘We shall meet in heaven.” After the stone had been set in place, he went to inspect it & this is what he read: “Rest in Peace on both sides & if there is enough room we shall meet in heaven.”
Today’s Gospel tells us to open our ears so that we may begin to speak plainly. Many of us fail to do this from time to time & we generate confusion. We utter ill-timed or ill-chosen words such as politicians often do, & it gets us into trouble. This is understandable. We are fallible human beings after all, & inevitably some of it will come out wrong in our everyday dealings with one another.
However, there is a level on which Christians must always try to speak plainly about the miracle of the Son of God coming into our lives with the Good News of God’s love for us. We need to say plainly that God loves us so much He will never abandon us, even though we may think He does sometimes. We must say plainly that God is faithful to His promise of our eternal fulfillment, that victory over the final enemy – death – has been won. We should say plainly that the love of God in us is to be experienced here & now, but only to the extent that we can love one another. Speaking plainly as Christians, we say that the love of God & love of neighbor are inseparable.
The paradox is that love itself is a great mystery. It is a miracle that will escape us if we take it for granted. The fact that people can love at all is stranger than their frequent failure to love at all. How is it that a person can rise above his own need, his own desire, his own worry & pain, & take unto himself the need & pain of another? How can one burdened beyond measure with sickness, grief, betrayal, loneliness still care about others? The mystery is all wrapped up somewhere in our ability to rise above the level of our own egos, where we can begin to see others in an entirely new way. Ultimately, the source can only be God Himself. That is why love is a mystery.
Francois Mauriac tells the story of a priest whose ministry represented a total self-giving in love to others. He literally wore himself out doing for others. Even on his death bed he could think only of others in need. He kept muttering the names of people about whom he was greatly concerned. As he died, his final words were “I shall never love enough.” He had learned how to speak plainly.
“Let your ears be opened,” says our Lord. Let them be opened to the good news of God’s incredible love for us that Jesus has delivered. Let them be opened so that we may learn to speak this good news plainly to others. Let them be opened so that we may not only speak of love to others, but also really care for others. When we are really caring, really loving, we are speaking as plainly as we can.
Speak plainly! Speak love – in all that we say & do! AMEN!