Twenty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time  ~ B

Isaiah 35:4-7a      ~       Psalm 146         ~       James 2:1-5          ~           Mark 7:31-37




Reflections through the

  Where is your story in the
  Sacred Story today?

  What examples of "noise" do
  you find in your life?

  Where and how can the noise
  of self-interest obstruct the
  Gospel imperatives of justice
  and peace in you? In society?
  In the Church?

  Where can silence be of 
  benefit in your daily life?

  How well do you listen? Click
  Listening Skills Test. (Test
  will appear in a new browser 
  window.  Close that window
  when finished to return to
  this page.)
Be Opened!

We often hear the expression, “turning a deaf ear,” meaning that we choose not to hear something.  In fact, according to linguists, the definition of NOISE is “that which we do not want to hear.”   We have a penchant for ignoring what makes us uncomfortable.  Today the Good News is that Jesus brings healing to a deaf person.  We might ask if we are in need of such a healing.  Do we need to "Be opened!"?  Is there a noise that keeps us from hearing the Gospel imperatives of a love that leads to justice and peace?

I would propose that this may just be the case.  There are so many instances when we as Christians are confronted with  noise that drowns out our hearing the Good News.   Often we are so preoccupied with our own problems and interests that we view the problems of those closest to us as noise.   Further, the challenge of the Gospel to care for the poor and the alienated in our society is just so much noise when it impinges on our own comfortable world.  

The current public debate over immigration, for example, has become so much noise, not because the issue isn’t important, not because it's  too complex, and not because it is not urgent. The immigration issue is profoundly  all of those. But the issue has become noise because people have failed to listen to one another. We have become so passionate about our particular take on the issues that we cannot hear what the other person is saying.  The current political polarization is a dramatic symbol of such noise -- the very recipe for conflict and chaos.

Today Jesus would take us aside and challenge us to "Be opened!"  We need to get away from the shouting and the name calling. We need to get quiet.  It is a symptom of an age that is bombarded with so much noise, that we distrust silence.  We’re uncomfortable with silence,  but we need silence. Silence helps us focus.  It helps us move inside ourselves where we are able to listen to the voice of the one who heals.  We need the absence of noise.  It will allow us to hear the other.

Silence helps us focus on the problem directly -- as messy, as uncomfortable as that might be.  If we are deaf to family members, we must go to the heart of the problem and acknowledge our own consuming self-interest, otherwise we can miss the meaning of the other’s pain.   If we are blind to the needs of the poor, we need to confront that blindness and act upon it.  If we won’t listen to the other side, there will never be consensus.

There may be no more profound example of confronting the noise of one’s self-interest than Mother Teresa of Calcutta who joked that when she would come before the gates of heaven, St. Peter would send her away because there were no slums in heaven.  Her vision was so selflessly focused on the most vulnerable in her society and the world that “heaven” would be unfamiliar to her.  She was not afraid to confront the messiness of the human condition.  On the contrary she embraced it because she believed that was where she would find her God.  We must learn from Mother Teresa to put our finger on the problem.  We listen not just with our ears, but also with our eyes and with our hearts. 

The GOOD NEWS is that through this Eucharist we can come to the quiet and silence the noise so we can, as St. Paul urges, confront that which keeps us from being fully Christ's Body in the world.  In this Eucharist, the prophet Isaiah invites us to  embrace hope which is the fruit of God's Word.  In this Eucharist we celebrate the power of the Risen Christ to open ears deaf to others.