Thursday, 4 August 2016

11th Sunday after Pentecost 31 Jul 2016 Sermon

11th Sunday after Pentecost 31.7.16 Hearing and speaking

Our Lord heals the deaf and dumb man. We take this symbolically to say that He opens our ears to hear the word of God; and opens our mouths to speak only what is good and edifying (Eph 4,29).

As a philosopher once observed, we have two ears and only one mouth; and this suggests that we should listen twice as much as we speak.

How many times do we say the wrong thing – false, unfounded, uncharitable, unhelpful? How we shoot our mouths off.

If we spent as much time listening as we do talking; if we really listened, to discern the word of God in the midst of all the noise and clatter round about, we would be much more settled, much more at peace; and many good effects would follow from that.

So we ask Our Lord to touch our ears, to hear what God is saying.

We do not hear the voice of God directly, but there are other ways we can find out what He is saying.

We have the Bible, the Catechisms, the Creeds, the Saints, Popes and Councils of the Church; the written and living word of God – all telling us what God wishes us to know

Then there is just about an infinite amount of written and audio material available today; some of it highly misleading; but if we are firmly grounded in the teaching of the Church, we can learn to separate the good fish from the bad (cf Mt 13,48).

We can also learn from our life experience. We learn from both the good and evil around us – what to do and not to do respectively.

And we ask Our Lord to touch our mouths, that we may speak always the best thing to say in each situation – all that is truthful, charitable, wise – as close as possible to what Our Lord Himself would say if He were in our place.

We will not let careless and loose words damage the cause.

We know how hard it is to control the tongue (cf James 3,1-12). We will improve in control if we have listened first; if we are settled in prayer, and strengthened by the grace of God.

If we are more at peace within ourselves we are less likely to be attacking others.

The monasteries had it right all along. Lots of silence, and much damage is avoided. How much sin results from loose talk.

Yet our social life is based on lots of talking. Silence makes people uneasy - and if not talking they have gadgets making sound.

We have to learn to step back from the ways of the world, and take a more spiritual view of things.

The rest of us have to live outside of monasteries, so we have to work out how to speak without sin, and without compromising truth and charity. Also we have to be discerning as to what we hear (or read, or watch).

We do not just listen to anything that happens to go in our ears; nor let just anything escape our mouths. We filter both.

We are quick to listen, and slow to speak (James 1,19). We speak only when our minds, and hearts, have processed what is about to come out.

Gentleness does not have to be weakness. We can speak to different people in different ways, as Our Lord did. He was gentle with sinners, and harsh with the unrepentant. In all cases He was aiming at the good of the person He was addressing.

We find it very hard to be angry, and still speak with charity. (Be angry and do not sin – Eph 4,26). We can get better at this with lots of prayer, and again, listening to the word of God. The saints would say what God told them to say. We want to learn how to do that.

‘Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening.’ (1 K 3,10).

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