09/05/2021 – Deaf Man

Dia dhuit,

As I was pondering over today’s readings my ears were a wee bit blocked. It sometimes happens to me during the summer months when the pollen count is high. Sometimes I have to ask people to repeat what they have said. It’s a tiny tiny insight into what it is to be deaf. Today Jesus heals a deaf man who also has a speech impediment. How excluded this man must have felt in those days, long before the advances we have nowadays like sign language, hearing aids, computer software etc. Can you imagine what it was like for him when he was finally able to hear and speak unimpeded? What incredible joy. Imagine the onlookers who were astonished at such a miracle. Jesus, through this miracle, is showing that He is the one the Prophet Isaiah speaks about in our First reading today. He prophesises that God Himself will come and “then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, the ears of the deaf unsealed, then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy.” Jesus is not just the Messiah but the LORD Himself. Like all the miracles of Jesus this one too points towards something much deeper – spiritual deafness, for instance. The ears of ALL our souls could listen a bit better of course, but someone who’s story reminded me of our Gospel was Abby Johnson. Her life story is told in the film “Unplanned,” which is based on the book of the same name, which she wrote herself. In the film we see that Abby was introduced to Planned Parenthood, America’s largest Abortion provider, at a young age. She eventually joined the company, and rose through the ranks, winning an award, and becoming the head of one of America’s largest Abortion Clinics. Her parents and her husband were against her working in this industry, but she was ambitious and deaf to their concerns. They prayed for her.Often when she would arrive for work there would be two types of Pro Life people outside the gates of the clinic. There were those who shouted judgemental remarks and who were easily dismissed as fanatics by those who worked in the clinic. There was another kind of mysterious group called “40 Days for Life” who gently prayed the Rosary, and even greeted Abby each morning, showing love and respect. Like the deaf man in the Gospel, Abby encountered Jesus through these people, and the ears of her soul were opened. One day she went to the “40 Days for Life” offices and she told them she had resigned and that she was with them now. Their jaws dropped! She explained the power of their prayer and witness, and how c. 70% of the ladies who had made appointments never walked through the door, when they saw the people praying. They were delighted to hear this because they often wondered if their prayer was having any impact. Incredibly, Abby and her new friends saw the large clinic eventually close down.We may know some people who appear to be spiritually deaf to us. Let’s not judge them, but allow them to meet Jesus through us, through our respect and love, and our prayers in the background. It was the prayers and patience of my own parents that pulled me out of the swamp and opened my spiritual ears to the word of God. As our Response to today’s Psalm says: “My soul, give praise to the Lord.”

God bless you,
Fr Marius