The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for the home
September 9, 2018 – 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Mark 7:31-37
My grandson looked right at me and said, “Grandpa, you’re not listening to me. I don’t want oatmeal. I want corn flakes. Aren’t you listening?”
He was only five, but he already knew how to capture my attention. Accusation of not listening will do that. Ignoring a child’s request can be a major flaw of adults in the mind of young children. They were not yet old enough to know that their elders have at times similar thoughts. Honest listening is not easy for anyone, but it is very necessary for healthy and holy living. Even at breakfast.
All human communities, the Church included, struggle with good listening. Sometimes, there is just too much noise, too many distractions, that get in the way of listening. Sometimes we may not want to hear what’s being said. We can have what’s called “selective hearing.”
Today’s gospel describes Jesus healing a deaf man. Descriptions of miracles in the gospels often have two meanings, a physical meaning and a spiritual one. Jesus wants us to not only hear the sounds around us, especially those in words said to us, but also the words said to us by God’s Spirit.
Yes, God speaks to all of us in some way or another. Listening to God’s words can be quite difficult because God’s words are usually quite soft, even silent. They are also carried within the words that come to us from others. Being attentive to the divine message within a human message requires our full attention – and our willingness to hear God’s personal words that are being communicated to us.
Healing spiritual deafness is part of the work Jesus came to accomplish. God wants to communicate with each of us all the time. But we can “silence” God’s words or “tune them out” all too easily. Those words of God come to us directly in prayer and meditation. They also come indirectly through the events and persons we encounter each day. They come though requests made to us by spouses, by our children and grandchildren, by friends and co-workers. So, are we open to hearing those sacred words?
©David M. Thomas, PhD