By Father James Farfaglia (slight editing for length)
In this Sunday’s Gospel passage, the story of the deaf and dumb man healed by Jesus shows us what happens when we encounter the Lord. Our journey with Jesus begins at our baptism; however, this journey continues and deepens as we make our way toward eternal life in heaven.
As we break open the gospel passage and begin to explore some unique qualities. We discover that the man whom Jesus heals possesses those characteristics exemplifying the way in which we must live Christianity each day if we are to continually encounter the Lord Jesus.
Humility Is The Key To Acknowledging Truth
We notice that the man is open, in need and accepting of our Lord’s help. These qualities characterize the deaf man’s humility. Humility is a basic virtue of the Christian way of life and a necessary virtue if we wish to walk with Jesus and experience his presence in our lives. Unfortunately, many simply do not want to hear the truth of the Gospel. Many reduce truth to their own criteria. Regrettably, we are frequently deafened by pride. We allow ourselves to hear only what we want to hear.
Nevertheless, the increasing number of people, especially young people, earnestly seeking the truth is encouraging. The possession of the truth becomes a liberating experience.
Pope Benedict XVI said, “The Truth is the Truth and there is no compromise. Christian life requires, so to speak, the daily ‘martyrdom’ of fidelity to the Gospel – that is the courage to let Christ grow in us and direct our thinking and our actions. But this can only happen in our lives if there is a solid relationship with God” (Wednesday General Audience, August 29, 2012).
The truth can only be discovered if the human person is open to discover it and to know it.
Our Culture No Longer Hears The Voice Of Truth
In our own society, we continue to argue over moral issues. A cacophony of yelling and name calling exists because false ideologies do not leave room for dialogue. Instead, modern man finds himself trapped in a dark and silent cavern of blindness and deafness.
Many cry out that a woman is autonomous from God’s law and natural law, thus allowing her to make any decision that she desires over the life of her unborn child. She is free, in the name of “reproductive health,” to end the life of her own child.
Many cry out that because of love, a man should be able to marry a man, and that a woman should be able to marry a woman. But is this true love or is this is an infernal obsession with lust?
Can men and women be so deaf and blind that they can no longer recognized the truth of their own bodies? Can they be so deaf and blind and to the truth of sexual act as God and nature intended it to be, that they turn on themselves like ravenous animals? And yet, the root of this collapse into the abyss can be traced back to the massive rejection of one fundamental principle which is rooted in God’s law and natural law: “the inseparable connection, established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break, between the unitive significance and the procreative significance which are both inherent to the marriage act” (Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, 12).
Separating Sex From Procreation Has Had Dire Consequences
Once a deaf and blind humanity separates sex from procreation, a deaf and blind humanity can kill an unborn child because the child becomes an unwanted result of a sexual act that is no longer open to procreation.
Once a deaf and blind humanity separates the unitive dimension from the procreative dimension of the marital act, this same blind humanity, obsessed with sex, can pervert the unitive dimension of sex by erroneously thinking that sex between two men or sex between two women is the same as sexual intercourse between a man a woman. Saint Paul has already warned us about this sad scenario of our times.
“…since they refused to see it was rational to acknowledge God, God has left them to their own irrational ideas and to their monstrous behavior” (Romans 1:28).
British historian and philosopher Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975) once said: “Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder.” What is the solution? The solution is not what; it is who. “And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hands on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, ‘Ephphata! – that is, ‘Be opened!’ – And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly” (Mark 7: 32-35).
We Must Hear The Gospel Message And Proclaim It Boldly
In meditating on today’s passage from the gospel, we might note the direct relationship between deafness and speech. Jesus first touches the man’s ears and then he touches his tongue so that he may speak.
The lesson here is very clear. Hearing the word of God is not enough; we must also proclaim the truth. During his first pastoral visit to the United States,
Pope John Paul II said: “And so, we will stand up every time that human life is threatened. When the sacredness of life before birth is attacked, we will stand up and proclaim that no one ever has the authority to destroy unborn life.
When a child is described as a burden or is looked upon only as a means to satisfy an emotional need, we will stand up and insist that every child is a unique and unrepeatable gift of God, with the right to a loving and united family.
When the institution of marriage is abandoned to human selfishness or terminated, we will stand up and affirm the indissolubility of the marriage bond.
When the value of the family is threatened because of social and economic pressures, we will stand up and reaffirm that the family is necessary not only for the private good of every person, but also for the common good of every society, nation and state.
When freedom is used to dominate the weak, to squander natural resources and energy, and to deny basic necessities to people, we will stand up and reaffirm the demands of justice and social love.
When the sick, the aged or the dying are abandoned in loneliness, we will stand up and proclaim that they are worthy of love, care and respect” (Mass at the Capitol Mall in Washington; October 7, 1979).
The solution to today’s challenges really rests with each of us. Are we going to follow Jesus or are we going to continue down the path of self-destruction?