Gospel of the Deaf Man being cured, both of ears (Ephphrata) and of tongue/speech.
Kids Homily: With the gospel about a man being cured so he could hear: I ask you: Isn’t it quite nice that the man could now have someone to listen and talk to? He had been missing that! In your own life, isn’t it good when you have a great someone to whom you can talk to, and to listen to you, and with whom you can do the same? Yes, indeed! The healed man in the Gospel Story got to have many such friends himself because of what Jesus did for him. Jesus was a special friend to him from then on. Jesus helped the man to hear, and to speak. It was a miracle.
Teens Homily: It is a good thing for us to help people who don’t have a voice to instead, have a voice (or to get a voice). It is the reason you might stand up for some cause or something for others. Sometimes it is the teens who are the very ones who don’t have a voice in things, too, and you ask: Who will come to our help? In my own teen years, at 17 and 19, I joined the City Council in Bowie, by election, to fill one of two seats created by the City, to give teens a say in what Bowie was doing for its younger members. I had a successful term doing things like getting a community center build for youth, and a city-long bike trail for our exercise and getting around before our car-owning years. In this gospel, note how a few persons are the ones who got the deaf man and brought him to Jesus. They were helpers. They gave the man a healing opportunity to hear and speak. It worked, too. Jesus healed the man.
Teens and Youth of our parish: I know that a good part of how you live out your faith is with all the good works of charity or service you offer others. You’ve helped Resurrection parish in various ways like that. You also may do charitable and good things through your school or other organizations, with your same Christian heart. In myself, back at your age, I can remember being in a singing group in my teens and young adult years, and we performed in public and we were paid for it. Do you know what we did with the money? We singers donated our earnings to an organization that helps people with speech impairments, in researching ways to make progress in helping people to talk. Our motto was “we sing that they shall speak.” So, you can hear the connection I have, in my memory, to the service we did, as to the deaf-mute man gospel and of Jesus’ miracle and involving the people who helped bring him there to get the help he needed. Are you teens moved by the Heart of Jesus and of those unnamed people who cared for this needy non-hearing and non-speaking man? Think of the change that was brought to that man! I think you can bring joy like that to others, too.
Today’s Gospel in Mark chapter 7 is about a person hearing and speaking, who wasn’t able to do so before. Jesus has come and done a miracle.
The physical miracle is great, but there is more to the story. And, in the finish, I think we can find a way to relate it to what good God can do even in our more trying experiences of today in the Church.
The spiritual side of this Gospel is first about how Jesus will open people up to hear in a new way, as reconciled members to God’s family, as in an amazing, new life ability. As in soulful ears. The Bible says: The one who has ears, let them hear! And it is talking about hearing from the heart and soul and a renewed mind, as well as with the sense of natural hearing.
The spiritual side of this Gospel is about how Jesus will give people the power of speaking, as just like He had, to proclaim the Kingdom of God as among us. My friends, these are two gifts of which you and I have been given as disciples of Christ. To hear from God and to proclaim for God.
You come today to hear the Word of God, and you are commissioned, once again, to take it and apply it to your own life and to share the Good News out to the world.
In the account of Jesus and the deaf man, the miracle happens, and he now hears, and now nothing will stop his loosed and healed tongue from speaking—as he goes forth into the Decapolis (the ten cities-outskirts area of the northeastern Holy Land) and tells everybody his change. We’ll hear later in the Gospel, of how people from there, in the Ten cities region, will hear him and be convinced to go all the way to Jerusalem to find Jesus as so to hear Him speak the Good News and share healing–all because of the example of this healed man do they make such an effort!
Let’s look at the crisis in the Church. In helping us to handle it, God gives us His Word. The Word of God addresses us in our current situations. I think we can make a connection of this story to issues of the sexual abuse crisis currently happening in the Church. I see two points to pull out from the miracle story. Listen to what they are and see if you agree with this viewpoint.
The first connection would be to look today on a person who is come forth to seek healing from their abuse hurt—as being like the deaf man who came forth to Jesus. In the story, we hear how the deaf man was accompanied by some people to help get him to his healing. That sounds familiar in those people who want today to help our abuse victims to get to their healing touch in the Light of God and His Truth. May God bless the needy people coming forward right now, even if after many years of holding back. Let us help them! We need to be such accommodating people for victims to get what they need, after their long period of silent suffering. Indeed, in the Mark 7 miracle story, was not the man also in a long time of silent suffering? He also would need help in getting a voice, as he never had one. Isn’t that connection clear today for our victims coming forward? They need to be accepted and accompanied. It was always meant to be that the Church would help them with that. We help people in need. But these clergy abuse and other type of abuse cases in our recent past (of a few decades)–that hasn’t been the case in some stories, that they got their compassion and help. Often, rather, the known episodes of abuse were covered up or left to be ignored. By families, by society, and sadly by the Church.
Yet here, like the deaf man in Mark 7, comes along someone Jesus wants to help and heal. And He will use the people who will accompany the needy ones.
While we hear many negative things lately, and they are horrible, and of a magnitude that is upsetting–I can also say, in a balanced way, that the Church has been acting in countless numbers of times when they did do the right thing, and accompany the hurting victims who have come forward to be heard and to be helped. I can testify that I know a priest, who later became a bishop, who did visit with so many families in Md. and DC and offered lots of help to them—this I know as a priest of Washington in witness and knowledge to that loving care.
Yet the strife going on in the Church is about when it didn’t happen, and too often enough.
The Mark 7 Gospel account of the long left-out and muted deaf man really connects to me in examining what the response should be to a present-age sexual abuse victim (by a clergyman or any other person). In the gospel, the deaf man gets “his day.” In today’s Church situation, is also about letting the victims coming forward to get their day and due attention from those who bear Christ in them.
Examine the moment in this gospel. Suddenly, the opportunity to be touched and be freed of the hurt and the silence comes along. Jesus happens to be up in the far distant Decapolis region of the Holy Land. In the deaf man’s cure by Jesus, we read of how the man healed cannot help but go forth and announce his deliverance. One would rejoice in his changed life coming of hearing and speaking. Would he or she not? In the true persons who have been the victims in the scores of sex abuse going on in this nation (and world), one would rejoice in their having their due time to come forth and be given their long-awaited point of notice and care. For so long, in church or all through society, their cries have not been heeded, as would be deserved. If you remember my sexual abuse themed homily from the start of Summer, then you’ll recall me saying that the cries of these hurt persons are all over in society. 1 in 4 women have suffered it from someone, often a stepdad, relative, sibiling, father, coach, teacher or other trusted person (sadly also including religious persons/clerics now). The stats for boys being abused have reached 1 in 6 in some modern studies. Same-sex adults have become their group of highest offenders.
Like the deaf and mute man, these victim cries need to be heard. I said that message at start of Summer, in a homily about responding to sexual abuse cases (before the clergy story broke), and I repeat it at Summer’s end: These victim cries need to be heard.
With the crisis breaking mid-Summer, now the spotlight is on the Church. We are learning how the wounded (in this abuse way) have patterned into a slow speaking about it to others, which is normal for response to these crimes and the hurts put upon them. Yet, now, they are speaking. Let us listen and respond to them. In the Catholic Church, we have our responsibility here, and the spotlight is on us. Let us act and do right, with courage.
We know, too, how all of society has so much greater numbers and accounts of abusers and crimes, still being much of it is being ignored. (It’s why I gave the early Summer homily on it.) In the manner of the reports going out now about the Church sexual scandals, some media and people point and act like it’s a Catholic Church problem only. How wrong that assumption is! How blind a way to look at it, too. People are quick to point to us (but we should respond in all truth of our faith to what our wrong is), yet, we should also be an example to the world that they all have the same problem going on, and in huge degree too.
Right now it is very obvious as of how most of society has not looked much at their selves in these heinous acts. Abuse is rampant all across society. Who else will own up to it? We Catholics and our leaders were mostly afraid to do so, before, and so were almost all people across the board. Yet, it is time for the Light of God to shine, both on His own, and also to all the guilty. As Luke 4:18 quotes, Jesus said He came “to set all captives free,” and this is a modern version of it. Let us not be afraid to allow the work of The Lord to come among us. (We have lost too many opportunities before to do so, so now let it come.) Let the captives be set free. Let the deaf hear and the dumb speak…. Let eyes be opened…. Let hearts be opened.
I said I saw two points of view to this gospel and to the scandal. Well, as uncomfortable as it is to admit, you and I might be in this story as the Church, as the deaf one, to the cries of victims, or deaf to God speaking to us.
Blame some people, as you want, or of people not doing enough. Yet God has openness He wants to deal to all of us, for the times we won’t hear Him, or when we won’t speak on His behalf and for the kingdom of God and the Good News of deliverance in Jesus’ Name.
God wants us to hear Him speak to our hearts, more deeply, and He wants us to share forth what we hear, from Him, out to others, especially in need. This I pray for all of us, but especially our leaders in this time, We have had a systemic way of closing down channels of dealing healthfully with our situations—and that has been the cause of so much pain now. Jesus says: No more! Be opened!
Ephphata! # # #
============================================================== For further thought
For further thought: We need to hear of God’s Word, so as to act on it. As we just had Mary’s Birthday on the 8th, we think of Jesus’ great compliment to his mother—Blessed is she, or anyone, who does hear the Word of God and keep it, that is, she lived it in her heart and put it forth in actions in her life. Do we realize this First Disciple of Jesus has much to teach us? Are we open to Mary’s help? How much so?
St. Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, said something similar to her of being open to The Word. She said: “And blessed is the one having believed that there will be a fulfillment to the things spoken to her from the Lord.” Yes. Blessed is she who heard from God and accepted His Word.
We need to be prompted by the Scriptures, or the Saints, or the Holy Spirit’s Word in us, or other great means to receive a word that is basically unheard by the world. Are you hearing and listening for God’s words? How much so? And, if so, what are you hearing lately, and what have you been applying? An active disciple of Jesus has a ready answer for those questions, you know.
Do you practice the holy triad of: Hearing> Listening> Serving God?
Last week’s practice in the parish. We had gatherings on Wednesday/ Friday night/ and Saturday all day—to do what? To listen to others—to listen to ourselves—to listen to God. We talked of areas that challenge our mercy or forgiveness spirit. We shared of the raw feelings and gut responses to the clergy sexual abuse crisis going on. Some sharing a godly reaction, some just an angry, gut human response, and some others what sound more as a worldly response of some distortion or error in their words—showing the utter confusion going on. Yet, we had the great experience of hearing, listening, sharing AND with the hope of applying something to what was in the dialogue and discussion, in benefit to the Church, and to the victims. Ponder.
In a testimony from Friday and Saturday. We had a victim tell his story. He had pain to share. He had hope and healing to share. The man was Brian Pusateri. A victim. He told the account of how, after his first Mass served as an altar boy, he was abused alone by his pastor. Later, Brian found out how his brother, too, was abused, and so were many other boys—all by the same pastor. In Toledo Ohio. He spoke of how he now is a speaker in the movement of recovery from priest sexual abuse to victims, and of how went back to speak at his childhood parish all about it.
His story is told in a book by Donald Calloway called “Broken Doors.” Brian now runs Broken Doors Ministries.