“BLIND, DEAF AND DUMB PEOPLE!”
First Reading: Jeremiah 2:1-3,7-8,12-13
Responsorial Psalm: 35(36):6-11
Gospel Reading: Matthew 13:10-17
Biblically speaking, physical blindness, deafness, dumbness, etc., were considered signs of resistance to the Word of God. The people that fell in these categories were denied access into the Temple to worship and hear the Word of God. They simply stayed either at the temple gates or along the road begging for alms. Figuratively, this could be said of those who choose to resist the Word of God, or simply listen to what favours them and disregarding the rest. Just like Paul Simon in his song “The Boxer” sings: “Still, a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.” This attests to the fact that we are highly selective as to what want to hear and see and understand with our heart. Nevertheless, in today’s gospel, Jesus appeals to us “to look with our eyes and listen with our ears and understand with our heart” so that he might heal our sense of insignificance that so often stands in the way of our belief in the Good News.
When asked why he spoke to his disciples in today’s gospel why he preferred to talk to the crowd in parables, he basically responded: “The reason I talk to them in parables is that they look without seeing and listen without hearing or understanding. So, in their case, this prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled: ‘You will listen and listen again, but not understand, see and see again, but not perceive. For the heart of this nation has grown coarse, their ears are dull of hearing, and they have shut their eyes, for fear they should see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and be converted and be healed by me…’” Therefore, those who continually shut their ears or reject Christ’s messages were left in their spiritual blindness and deafness to wonder to the meaning of His messages. Likewise, in the first reading, the Lord reprimands His people because they were seeking the wrong place to contain what He wanted to give them: “Since my people have committed a double crime: they have abandoned me, the fountain of living water, only to dig cisterns for themselves, leaky cisterns that hold no water.” The phrase “leaky cisterns” means that they would not be able to contain whatever is precious to them. Indeed, they rejected the Lord, shutting their eyes, ears and hearts to God’s injunctions; the God who delivered them out of Egypt, the only true God. Thus, through their spiritual blindness and deafness, they became ungrateful people, breaking the covenantal promise and betraying the Lord for Baal.
Dear friends in Christ, are you blind and deaf to the word of God? We become spiritually deaf and blind whenever we resist hearing the Word of God and tend to replace God with “leaky cisterns” that cannot hold water. Paul says in 2Corinthians 4:3 – “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” The devil blinds a person’s mind by appealing to his flesh. When Satan gets a person to focus his life upon himself and the world, that person becomes enslaved to his flesh and to the things of this world. In this way, Satan can prevent the message of the gospel from taking root in the heart of a person.
At baptism, our ears and lips were touched by the minister with the “rite of ephphatha,” praying that we may hear the Word of God and profess the faith. As we hear the Word of God (either vocally or written), may the Lord heal us of our blindness and deafness caused by our sins; may He continually “enlighten the eyes of our minds and hearts so that we might see what hope his call holds for us” (Eph. I:18), and may we continually see the light of God and contemplate Him as the source of life, as today’s Psalmist puts it Amen.
© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Fatima, Vila Sabrina, São Paulo, Brazil
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