Do any of us have speech impediments? A loss of hearing? I can admit to both! In this week’s Gospel, Jesus heals—yes, using spit! He heals a man who does not hear and does not speak. This year, I am thinking about my own speech impediments—what keeps me from speaking and when do I feel muted. At times it is fear! At other times, it is a very real silencing—a dismissal by others of what I have to say or the way in which I say it. These too are impediments to my speech. And as for hearing, there are some times when I just want to say, “I don’t want to hear it!” The hearing often has consequences; I become responsible in some way for what I have heard. At other times, I know how someone needs to hear me say the words, “I hear you!” All three words are emphatically important. We all need and want to be heard. We all need and want to be acknowledged.
Ears to listen and hear, mouths and tongues to speak and advocate! When we gather each weekend as a community, we come to participate whole-heartedly—with open ears and bold voices. We aren’t mere spectators. We participate. And our participation does not end when we leave the church. That’s when following the Way of Jesus begins anew, just as it did for the disciples in Jesus’ time. When we witness a Baptism, we hear the words “May the Lord soon touch your ears to receive his word, and your mouth to proclaim his faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father” (Rite of Baptism for Children, #65). Perhaps we have forgotten this anointing we all received.
When I listen to the voices of our brothers and sisters in other parts of our city, I hear the inequities. Zoom meetings and virtual learning work for some of us. But if you don’t have access to Internet services, or you get a message like “your Internet connection is unstable”—everyone becomes frustrated. We become muted by a lack of access to technology. In this case, it doesn’t help to say, “Unmute yourself!”
I am more aware of how that declaration “Unmute yourself” isn’t as simple as a keystroke. In many ways, we are all called to be healers—like Jesus! We have the call to give voice to the voiceless, to hear God’s voice in new ways from unexpected places and persons. We have the call from our Baptism to open our ears to the voices of all our sisters and brothers throughout the world. This weekend let’s ask for healing. Free our mouths to speak words that invite justice, freedom, and healing just as Jesus did. (And we don’t have to use spit!)