The cure of the deaf man in today’s gospel illustrates the importance of the gift of listening, particularly in this noisy world.
Our propensity to talk rather than to listen shows our tendency to refuse to hear the voices that disturb or challenge us. Our difficulty to listen to what others have to say stems from our being full of ourselves. We tend to be confined to our own opinions and biases. We are often closed to what others think, say or feel. The fuller we are of ourselves, the more we are unable to listen.
Our capacity to listen can be a measure of our own readiness and capacity to relate to God and others. It measures our ability to pray, to lift our hearts and minds to God, to listen to the prompting of the Spirit.
Christian ministry involves the gift of listening, if we are to heed the “vocation” or calling to serve our God and others. Christian responsibility requires us to listen to needs and concerns of others, especially of those who are under our care or jurisdiction. The gift of listening is a gift that can help us deal with the human problem of suffering, isolation and loneliness. Every person has the human right to be listened to. It is a gift that we always have to ask from God who always listens to all our cares and concerns.
As we cross our foreheads, our lips and our hearts to listen to the word of God in Scriptures every Sunday, we have to ask the Lord to help us discern the issues of the day as well the needs of those who require our love and compassion. Let us allow the Lord to “take us aside in private, away from the crowd”, encounter him in the silence of our souls. Let us hear him speak his voice in the sanctuary of our conscience.
In his letter to the early Christians, James warns the community about some things that can keep us from seeing as God does, that is with prejudices and bias. Prejudices and biases can be subtle. Jokes about certain nationalities or races or religions can easily be taken as an acceptable kind of humor. The typical characteristic of such prejudices and biases is their ability to escape our sense of awareness of their being present.
Transformation comes about when we see things with the vision of faith, like when we use a pair of glasses to correct our failing eyesight. In our schools and in our communities, we need the vision of faith that can transform our lives into Christ. When we begin to see things as Christ sees, we see the glory of God shining through human weakness. When we begin to think as Christ thinks, we develop a mentality that opts for the poor and the needy. When we begin to speak as Christ inspires us to speak, we speak a language that recognizes and accepts every human being as a fellow human being, equal in dignity as God’s children.
As we come together to recognize Christ in the breaking of the word and to commune his presence in the breaking of the bread, let us realize that we are all fellow workers, companions and not competitors, in the building up of God’s kingdom in our midst.