September 5, 2021 – 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/090521.cfm)
In proclaiming us the Good News of God’s salvation, Jesus performed lots of healing miracles. Our gospel today is one of the greatest healing miracles ever told about Jesus. Here, Jesus cured a Gentile who have hearing and speech impediments.
Somehow hearing those miracle stories sometime makes us wonder how does it feel to be healed by Jesus? In a sense, if that deaf & dumb Gentile is with us now, how he would tell us today his story? And what would be his message for us today? Does he have something to say to us today about him being healed by Jesus?
Once, I came across an account of Jesus’ healing ministry, which is worth reflecting on. It is called: the healing of a deaf and mute man as may have been told…by himself. It goes like this….
“My name is James. I was once completely deaf. I was deprived of so much that others have taken for granted, i.e. the gift of hearing. I could not hear the shouts of children at play, the singing of the birds, the sound of the wind in the trees… I could not hear words of comfort, encouragement, or advice. Most people find it tiresome to communicate with me. This made me usually feel terribly isolated. Worse, because also of my speech impediment, I could not express myself – the more I felt deprived and isolated. Usually insensitive people just laughed at my stammering.
Also because I could not communicate and contribute anything to the community, I also felt useless and discriminated. People don’t like to communicate and touch me because I am disable and different. And when you are handicap and different, people are afraid of you. Worse, I sometimes believe that my disabilities were God’s punishment. I was full of self-pity. I longed for compassion. I was convinced that no one understood and felt sorry for me.
That was until the day I learned about Jesus. Even though he was a Jew and I was a Gentile that did not stop me from seeking his help. And what an experience! The first thing he did was to take me aside from the crowd and gave me his undivided attention. This made me feel important. He did not speak to me as it would have been a waste of words. Instead he touched me. It was a tender, patient and loving touch. He made me feel what I could not hear. He put his fingers into my ears. Then spitting his finger with some of his ‘laway’, he touched my tongue with his finger. Next he looked up to the heaven to show me that what will happen is God’s saving help. Then he said to me, Ephphatha “Be opened” And suddenly my ears were opened and my speech became normal. I was cured.
He then told me not broadcast what he had done for me. But I was unable to keep quiet. There was so much bottled up inside me that made me talked too much – non stop. I could not pass anyone in the street without saying “hello”. I couldn’t remain silent in the presence of someone in pain if I felt a word would help. I couldn’t bear to see an injustice done without denouncing it.
But soon I realized that I talked to much, and was not listening, which is also hurting others. So I try to really listen to others, which meant that I had to stop talking. I listened to the sound of nature, to music, to laughter and crying. With this I discovered that everybody has certain disabilities that prevent them from making full use of their gift of speech – shyness, insensitivity, apathy…Impediments that prevent them from hearing well – prejudice, inattention, refusal to listen.
Why am I telling you all this? It is to save you from the fate of those who have ears but cannot hear, and tongues but cannot speak. What I discovered from my experience is this: The greatest tragedy is not to be born deaf or dumb, but to have ears and yet fail to hear; and to have tongues and yet fail to speak. That is why Jesus words were: Be opened…. Open my ear to hear His words. Open my tongues to proclaim my faith.
Hearing and speech are indeed great means of communication. But without heart that is able to feel compassion, we will never be able to use these gifts well. It is only with the heart that we can listen rightly, and it is only with the heart that we can speak rightly. Jesus, who touched my ears and my tongue, also touched my heart. It was when he opened my heart above all that made me new. For me, that was the real miracle. He opened my heart so that I can love him and love one another. So, be opened in ears, in tongues and in above all, in heart.”
From this testimony, we learn that whatever then is our disabilities & impediments in life now – especially during these pandemic times – & beyond, Jesus wills for our healing & well-being in life. But all these happen according to His own will, ways & purposes than ours, and usually happen not in public & hullabaloo, but privately & in silence as well. And above all, our healing & well-being are meant to make us more OPEN & receptive to God’s offer of better life & love with Him.
Heal us, O Lord, from our self-centeredness that make us sick & isolated from your love & grace. Open our closed ears, mouths & hearts that we may fully be opened to enjoy our life with You and our Father now & always.
Hinaut pa unta. Amen.