11th Sunday after Pentecost 24.8.14 Centrality of Christ
The healing miracles of Our Lord always have a symbolic effect as well as the practical help He is giving to the person concerned.
So in this case (the healing of the deaf and dumb man) Our Lord symbolically takes away our deafness (our inability to hear His word) and our dumbness (our inability to proclaim His word).
The epistle reminds us of the essential central message of the Gospel which we have heard and must hold on to no matter what. That Christ has died to set us free from sin and risen to lead us to eternal life.
This is the message we must ‘hear’ and ‘speak’. We ‘hear’ it insofar as it sinks into our consciousness and becomes part of us, something we will never lose.
And when it has become so much a part of us that we no longer doubt its truth we will be able to live by it and proclaim it.
The message ‘Christ has died, Christ has risen’ is not just central to the Gospel but needs to be central to the whole of human existence.
Many people either do not believe this message or they regard it as only a side issue (even if they believe it is true).
No, it is central to everything. Without Christ doing what He did we would still be in our sins and unable to look forward to heaven. And the world would have no hope.
The world does indeed have hope, but not enough people see where that hope lies.
So the Gospel needs firm believers, who can hang on even if the sea is rough, and there is danger of being thrown overboard.
We must have mental clarity about what we believe and why.
We must not see ourselves as just one religion among many; as just one alternative stream among many others. We could be bamboozled by the variety of different religions and philosophies so that we end up saying everyone is right.
No, there is only one God and only one Saviour. And only one Church, the Body of Christ.
We face various temptations to loosen our hold on these central truths.
We might doubt God's power, or love, or the likelihood of His intervention. We might think, in the midst of some crisis, that He has left us out to dry. And we might resent that, and lose our inclination to pray.
Or, we might believe it all but not see how central it is, being preoccupied with other things.
But we must keep that central focus and get back to it.
Which is why we read the Scriptures and offer the Mass, forcing ourselves back to the centre, back to the drawing-board in a sense.
It might seem monotonous sometimes, but there is no other way that progress can be made.
If we start from any other place it will be the wrong place and the wrong results will follow.
Our ears are opened to hear… this time the word will sink in a little further than ever before.
And the further it goes in the more our tongue is loosened to proclaim, and praise, the wonders of God.
We cannot keep the word in once it has reached a certain point. Cf Pentecost, saints, Old Testament prophets- Jeremiah ‘a fire within’ (Jer 20,9).
Deepening our belief in the central message will enable us to cope with our own crises better, with less doubt and more confidence.
And will enable us to proclaim the word of life with such force that more people will convert to belief, and themselves enjoy the new certainty of truth.
May the Lord continue to open our ears and loosen our tongues!