Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah: “…the ears of the deaf will be cleared, the tongue of the mute will sing.” Imagine the song of happiness of the deaf man whom Jesus cured. His life was changed forever.
Step backwards to years before. The deaf man probably grew up with people making fun of him—shouting—pointing fingers. No doubt that since he was considered “unclean” because of his illness, he was avoided—became isolated. Tough to live in a world of silence—seeing lips moving without the benefit of sound, music, raindrops falling. Since the deaf man could not hear, he could not speak clearly either. People did what we do today—they labeled him as a freak. We don’t like those who are different from us. In other words, we discriminate. St. James describes a situation of a rich man who is treated with respect while a poor person is humiliated. Seems that we are slow at learning the lessons of history. Wars have been fought because of prejudice. We build walls—and we want to build higher walls to keep out those who are different. Pope Francis visited Sacred Heart Parish and two other cities in the United States where folks have been victims of prejudice, poverty, immigration. The Holy Father had consoling words for the people who, with eyes full of tears, were able to speak of their pain. Meanwhile, those of us who watched have to ask the difficult question, “Why?” Why do we allow the injustice to continue—just because some people are different? Sr. Norma was singled out and thanked by the Holy Father as someone who has knocked down the walls of prejudice. She has treated refugees as her brothers and sisters. What a marvelous example of Christ-like behavior.
Prejudice is a learned behavior. Children are more disposed to play with one another regardless of economic background, skin color, even language—because children speak the language of love. As adults we make distinctions—who’s in and who’s out. Sometimes when we see injustice we just turn the other way—we turn a deaf ear to the cry of the poor. Deafness does not have to be physical. All of us have selective hearing—becomes an art between husbands and wives. We tend to hear only what we want—what is convenient. “Be opened” was the prayer that Jesus pronounced on the deaf man. Our whole world is in need of the same prayer.
So many have become callused to the unjust conditions all around us. There are voices, who just because they have money, speak about getting rid of all the people who are not like us. Think back in the not to distant past of a dictator who had a similar idea—small Country—small man with a loud voice named Hitler. Did a lot of damage. How did he get away with such a terrible crime? How could humanity allow the killing of millions because of prejudice? We weren’t listening. Now, more than ever, we need to be opened—our ears, our eyes, our tongues in defense of those who have no voice. What an eye-opener—to hear the testimony of a young man who has spent his whole life on the street. And we don’t have to go to Los Angeles California to find them—they are here in McAllen. One day we will all have to face God—the Kings, the Dictators—the Presidents. God will not ask about how many times we said our prayers or whether we ever missed Mass. God will ask if we saw Him in the least of our brothers and sisters. Opportunities are present every day.
We want to allow the Lord to heal our deafness—to help us hear the voice of the poor who cry out for help. Jesus is present in those most in need.