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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Homily for the Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

We know that medical science has made great advancements in improving people's hearing. Some of you may be reaping the reward of those advancements through the use of hearing aids. Even with all the time, money, and labor put into improving people's hearing, there is one thing that this medical technology cannot do at this time: give hearing to someone who is completely deaf.

Just as medical technology is unable to cure physical deafness, there is another deafness that medicine can't heal: the deafness to God's will for our lives. Most of us, in fact all of humanity, suffer from the deafness in our spiritual lives caused by sin, but there is hope for this deafness. Just as Jesus was able to heal the deafness and speech impediment of the deaf man in the Gospel today, Our Lord is able to heal the spiritual deafness that we suffer.

Even with the medical technology available to us 2000 years after Our Lord walked the Earth, His miracle in today's Gospel passage amazes us even today. I don't know if any of us have ever met someone who was once deaf but now can hear perfectly. If you have met someone like that, or maybe even experienced a miracle like that yourself, you could tell us stories about the amazement that came upon those who witnessed it when the miracle occurred. I think if we were present when a person who is deaf suddenly began to hear, we would be like the crowd and tell everyone we know.

Not being able to hear physically is not the only deafness that we have to deal with during our lives on Earth. Far more common, and more dangerous, is the spiritual deafness that comes with being sinful people. While most of can hear those around us in the physical world, the voice of God in our lives remains a mystery, unheard and unknown. This deafness keeps us from hearing God's call to follow His will throughout our daily lives.

How do we overcome this spiritual deafness? The prophet Isaiah has the answer in the first reading: “Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, […] He comes to save you.” Just as Our Lord was able to heal physical deafness through the faith of the one healed, He is also able to heal those of us who suffer from spiritual deafness through our faith in Him. As we live our lives allowing our belief in Jesus to influence our actions and follow His commands, we will begin to hear God's call in our lives more clearly. It might be subtle and will take a lot of time, but we will develop an awareness for how God wants us to live our lives in service to Him.

As this spiritual deafness begins to dissipate, our interactions with those around us will also begin to change. We will begin to become more aware how we judge others and treat them differently based on our judgments of them. St. James challenges us in the second reading to be more aware of how we act towards others: “show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.” We are called, as Christians, to treat everyone equally. It doesn't matter if they are rich and influential, or poor and powerless. It doesn't matter what skin color they have or ethnicity they come from. It doesn't matter who they are or where they're from, we must treat everyone with the love of Christ without partiality.

As our spiritual deafness is overcome by Our Lord, we may hear that we challenged to allow our spiritual speech impediment to also be overcome. What is spiritual speech impediment? It's the silence when we hear or see injustice being done to someone or a group of people. It's when we don't speak up when someone tells a derogatory joke. It's also the desire to avoid embarrassment by not speaking about our faith in Christ, especially when someone is attacking our beliefs.

Just as Our Lord was able to heal the deafness and speech impediment of the deaf man, He can also heal our spiritual deafness and speech impediment. We need to place our faith in Him, that He will give us the strength to speak up when we should, and give us the words to say through the gifts of the Holy Spirit which dwells within us.

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