Tuesday, September 01, 2009

There are none so deaf as those who will not hear

Source Link - There are none so deaf as those who will not hear

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 35:4-7a
James 2:1-5
Mark 7:31-37

When I worked in Chicago, I was asked to help the Office for the Deaf with their religious education programs. The experience opened the door to a culture that I did not know existed. For me it was a culture that taught me about a deeper sort of communication. This friendship has made me realize that those who are deaf share a culture and common way of communicating. Their primary way of relating to the world is visual and they share a language of sign. They do not see their deafness as a handicap.

The hearing who listen to today’s Gospel will understand it in the context of their understanding of the Deaf. For those who see deafness from a medical/pathological perspective, the physical cure will loom large. For those who have been exposed to the cultural view of the Deaf Community, a deeper meaning will emerge. This Gospel story is so important to the Deaf Community that a camp for Deaf children is called Camp Mark 7. Only the hearing would wonder why.

One might think that today’s Gospel reading would not be as striking for those who do not view deafness as a handicap but I believe you would be incorrect. For the Deaf who view deafness as a culture, Jesus’ command, “Ephphata” is a call to openness to the Word of God and his gift of speech is an invitation to proclaim of the message of Jesus.

Jesus’ healing touch enabled the deaf man to proclaim the faith that drew him to Jesus in the first place. The wholeness he was given was the ability to accept his Christian vocation to evangelize others. This is a wholeness that all of us need.

At this Eucharist, we admit that we are hindered by our own failure to hear and our unwillingness to proclaim. We promise to be healed in the Lord — to listen for the sake of his Word and to allow our tongues to be loosened so that we might speak the message of the Lord with courage.

The reading from Isaiah proclaims healing for all the earth: “Streams will burst forth in the desert and rivers in the steppe. The burning sands will become pools and the thirsty ground, springs of water.” New life is given us when we accept the healing of the Lord. As a worshipping community, we know the words of the epistle are true: “Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him?”

We praise and thank the Father who heals us through Jesus.