Sunday, September 6, 2015

HOMILY Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle C September 6, 2015

          They brought to Jesus a deaf person with a speech impediment.  The poor guy had a speech impediment.   Hmmm.  The man was deaf, and something impeded his speech. 
          I feel sorry for this guy because I can kind of identify with him.  Many of us, I think, can because from time to time we suffer from a speech impediment. 
          Sometimes it is as simple as taking someone for granted and so forgetting to say “Thank you.”  That failure to say “thanks” is a type of speech impediment: speech impeded by laziness or thoughtlessness or routine.
          Perhaps we are too embarrassed or too proud to ask for the help that we need.  We continue to be hurt and hurt others rather than dump our pride, admit our weakness, and ask for help.  That is a speech impediment.  The first thing at 12 step programs is to stand up and say, “my name is Chuck and I am an alcoholic, or an overeater, or whatever it is”.  Speech is the first step back to recovery.
          At times we might be too shy, or self-conscious to speak up and make our concerns heard, to voice our opinion, to share our thoughts.  That is impeded speech. 
          Or we might be too uncomfortable saying to someone we care about, that I really like you, I really appreciate you, I love you.  We may be afraid of turning red; afraid of our own feelings; afraid especially of being rejected.  That is a speech impediment when we can’t speak what is in our heart.  Who as a teenager hasn’t been tongue-tied and dumb in this kind of situation?   And even when older we still are impeded but we get better at faking it.
           Perhaps we are afraid to speak up when others might disagree with us, or afraid to tell the boss something she or he doesn’t want to hear, or to speak a truth that is unpleasant and unwelcome, afraid of what others will think or do in reaction, and so out of fear we keep quiet.  That is a big speech impediment.
          Perhaps we don’t pray because we are too busy, too distracted, too occupied with a zillion things and many electronic gadgets.  Then our speech with God is impeded.  For many of us our speech is impeded because we don’t praise and glorify and thank God nearly enough.  We are too busy, to pre-occupied, too centered on our own little stuff to stop and say “Thank You, Thank You, Thank You,” which we should be doing all the time.  And that is impeded speech.
          Some of us have a very hard time apologizing, of asking for forgiveness, of even admitting a mistake and saying we were wrong.  That is a big speech impediment, but I am sure no one here has that impediment.
          There are many, many ways to suffer a speech impediment.  Not all of them are silent.  Sometimes we gossip, and then sometimes we lie, and we gossip, we criticize severely, we gossip, we spread rumors, we gossip, we taunt and call names, we gossip, we tell secrets, we gossip, we curse and swear, and of course, we gossip.  All of these are mal-formed, broken, crooked, wrong uses of speech.  And that is also a type of speech impediment. 
          In a recent weekday homily Pope Francis declared: “To make gossip is terrorism. …  Whoever gossips is like a terrorist that throws a bomb and it goes off, destroys; destroys with the tongue, doesn’t make peace,” said the pope.
          So, they brought to Jesus a deaf person with a speech impediment.  Anybody here ever have a speech impediment?  Of course.
          Do you want to be healed??   The man in the Gospel got healed.  If you want to be healed of your speech impediment than do what he did.  He went to Jesus.  Go to Jesus.
          Because you see Jesus is the Word of God.  God spoke God’s self so perfectly, so completely, so totally that the Word God speaks is God.  As St. John tells us at the beginning of His Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”   
          Who better to heal a speech impediment than the very Word of God?  So the man goes to Jesus.
          Notice that the man is deaf.  He doesn’t hear the Word of God. He doesn’t hear the Gospel.  How can he speak the praises and glory of God if he has never heard the Good News of the Gospel?  You have to hear the Good News of God’s love for you and for all of us in Jesus Christ before you can proclaim the praises and glory of God! 
          So first Jesus touches the man’s ears.  The Gospel says He took him off by himself away from the crowd.   Jesus put his finger into the man’s ears…”  
Jesus opens the man’s ears.  You have to open your ears, not the ones on the side of your head but rather the ears of your heart.  Open your heart to let the light of God shine into your heart.  Even if it is only a little crack, the light will get in.  And the more you open yourself the more God’s light will shine into you, the more you will hear God’s love for you, the more you will hear the good news of the Gospel.
          Then having heard the man could speak.  Not about recent trends in politics or sports or late night TV hosts.  Not all the endless blabber about Donald Trump.  No.  Rather he could speak truth, he could speak words of comfort and forgiveness, words of mercy and tenderness, words of justice and righteousness, words of witness and proclamation of what God had done for him, words of praise, words of love. 
          Brothers and sisters Jesus wants to heal us too; heal our deafness, heal our muteness, heal our blindness, heal our lameness, and especially heal our sin.  He wants to heal us of everything that keeps us from speaking, acting, loving, and living as children of God.  For He is the only-begotten Son of the Father.  And He wants us to be His sisters and brothers.  He bet His life on it.
          And that is something to shout about.  God bless. 

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