"The deaf shall hear my message" Jesus of Nazareth
In the last two gospels we have heard of the sadness of Jesus at the failure of people to listen to his words and message. Their traditions and prejudices seem to have blocked their ears to the beauty of his message. As Jesus journeys on his mission the Holy Spirit encourages him to find new ways to reach out to people rather than be disheartened at his seeming failure to be heard by some. In today's Gospel he sees a deaf man, and feels such compassion towards him that he is led to heal him. Jesus shows extraordinary sensitivity to the special needs of the deaf man realising that without his hearing he relies on his sight and touch. He takes the man aside , gently touches him to communicate his love without words and touches his tongue with his own spittle as a way of communicating his message without words. As a result of seeing the love of Jesus in action the man is healed of his deafness and speaks clearly.
This Gospel has great significance for us today as many of us are deaf to God's message and need our ears opened to hear Jesus speaking to us. The Church's mission is to open ears by using language without words just as Jesus touched the deaf man without words. What is this language without words that will open the ears of us today? It is of course the signs and symbols of the sacraments that are part of the liturgy of the Mass. We begin by being touched by Holy Water as we enter, we are invited to look at the Book of the Gospels held high, to look at the Host and Chalice raised for our adoration, to be touched by the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ and finally to receive the Priest's Blessing. All these signs will open our ears if we will allow Christ to do his healing work in us. As we go out into the world we will be shown the face of Christ in the suffering of others. All of us cannot be failed to have been touched by the face of the dead Syrian boy washed up on the beach. In this and other suffering faces we can have our ears unblocked and hear again the message of Christ's Gospel of love. Today's Gospel can unblock our deafness and empower us to be instruments of love for others.
In the silence please think about this Gospel and here are a few reflections to help you.
What are our blockages that cause us to be deaf to God? Is it our busy-ness, our lack of prayer and quietness, are we surrounded constantly with sounds that make us deaf to the Spirit?
What steps do we need to take to protect our spiritual hearing?
Are we aware of the special needs of the deaf?
Do we as a community provide for their needs?
Do we use sign language at our liturgy to help them, if not could some of us learn to sign and help them to understand the Mass better?
Does our Church think about the special needs of the disabled as Jesus did?
Do we reach out to touch them using the great technologies of today?
What can we do to reach out more to those who are deaf, physically and spiritually?
Have our ears been opened in recent times by the suffering of humanity around us and how have we spoken or acted as a consequence?