Homily – September 9, 2018

They brought a man to Jesus. Who are they, these men who brought this man to Jesus? Are they concerned family members? Are they good friends? Whoever they are their efforts to bring this man to Jesus changed his life and theirs as well.

A number of years ago there was this young child in the parish who had difficulty learning to talk. His concerned parents took him to different specialists for help. To make a long story short they discovered he had a hearing problem. Because he couldn’t hear correctly he couldn’t speak correctly. This was the condition of the man in today’s gospel.

Jesus didn’t say ‘be healed’, no he entered into that man’s space; touched his ears then he spat at him, strange behavior, and then he touched to man’s tongue. Jesus look to the heavens to show this would be the work of God and then commanded ephphatha, be opened. We can imagine the man’s ears popped, his tongue was loosed and he spoke plainly.

Jesus spat at the man. Remember the movie ‘my big fat Greek wedding? The aunt who keep spitting at people? This was an ancient action to ward off the evil eye. Those present saw nothing strange at Jesus spitting.

The men and women there were amazed at what happened. He has done all things well.

This whole thing of hearing incorrectly and having a speech impediment was the experience of the apostles in their journey of faith in Jesus. In last week’s gospel Jesus told them they has it all wrong; it’s not what goes into our mouths that makes us unclean but what comes out of our mouths, swearing and gossiping, bigotry, lying and smutty talk. In time they would hear and grasp the words and the identity of Jesus. Their Messiah would not be a conquering hero but a suffering servant. Their ears would be open and their tongues loosed when as Peter their spokesman they could say, ’you are the Christ, The Messiah.

Sometimes in our younger years we probably were told things about God that we not all that true. God is watching you. God is watching us but not in the sense of spying on us to catch us in the act. God is watching us with love because we are precious to him. God is angry with us and will make us pay. No, God understands that we are mistake making beings and hopes we’ll learn from our mistakes. There were so many times when we were presented with a god who was too small – as we are often too small in our unwillingness to accept and respect men and women different from ourselves.

Often the voice that spoke to us of God was a muddled voice and we heard a muddled message and imagined a distorted God, a harsh judge not a loving Father.

Sometimes we can speak with a muddled voice about God, about our church and we give good people a bad image.

St. Francis is supposed to have said, ‘preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words.’ Can someone, anyone say to us, I can’t hear what you’re saying when I see how you are acting?

Can the way we speak to and of other people, the way we accepted men and women who seek refuge in our country, the way we respect peoples of other faiths and racial backgrounds be a true expression of our Christian, catholic faith. Actions speak louder than words.