23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – B
As a music buff, I take pride in my 62GB music collection in my Itunes which I can listen to continuously for 36 days. It would be a total disaster for me if one day, I was not able to listen to my music anymore. The world would never be the same again without my music. One of the tasks of a priest is to celebrate mass and preach the Gospel most especially through the homily. What would I do if one day I lost my voice and wasn't able to say mass and preach anymore? I think I would feel very incomplete.
With this in mind how do we understand the world of Hellen Keller when she became blind, deaf and mute at the age of six or Beethoven when he became deaf later on in his life? How would we cope with being cut off entirely from the whole world of sound? This is the predicament of the deaf-mute in our gospel today.
The miracle is presented with some very interesting details especially about the actions of Jesus: 1) He took the deaf mute aside by himself away from the crowd: Like Elijah who brought the widow’s son back to life (1 Kings 17:19) and Elisha who raised a dead man (2 Kings 4:33), Jesus also performed the cure in private. This is connected with the theme of the messianic secret. 2) He put His fingers into the ears of the deaf mute and touched his tongue with saliva: although it may look to us as superstitious and paganistic it was nevertheless done routinely among healers of that time. The fingers here represent the creative touch of Jesus; through the spittle Jesus re-created the man. 3) looking up to heaven He sighed: Jesus always invoked His Father in moments like this then He breathed His creative Spirit. 4) and said to him “Ephphatha”: Jesus is here manifesting Himself as the powerful Word of God. As a result, the man’s ears were opened and he spoke clearly.
In the first reading this Sunday, the prophet Isaiah prophesies the coming of the messianic time when everything will be restored. The healing of the deaf-mute by Jesus is the fulfillment of this prophecy hence the messianic time has indeed come and still continues even today.
Under normal circumstances, most of us are able to hear and talk. Although animals can hear and can communicate like us they are not able to express themselves through language like we are. Our being rational makes us unique, that is why we are able to speak and write, we can sing, write poetry, create and listen to music, etc. God has given us these gifts so that we are able to communicate with Him and with each other. Through them we are able to reflect and celebrate the creativity of God. How grateful are we for these gifts? Do we ever appreciate and develop them? When the well runs dry there is no use in appreciating the water that once was there.
A beautiful part of the ritual of baptism is when the priest touches the ears and the lips of the baby while saying “The Lord Jesus made the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak, may He soon touch your ears to receive His word, and your mouth to proclaim His faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father.”
The acts of Jesus in the gospel are repeated every time we celebrate baptism. Faith opens our ears spiritually. From hearing, we are able to listen and obey the voice of God through the Church, through our parents and through each other.
The miracle of the deaf-mute in our gospel is our own story. It happens to us everyday; we just have to be aware and never stop thanking and praising God. Let us be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit who whispers and talks to us in the silence of our hearts.....