Once more, I plan to share each day’s biblical reflections and prayers with you. They can be found on the Vatican’s website here, and, in PDF form, on the World Council of Churches website here. In his General Audience on January 17th, the Pope said that “Every Christian worthy of the name should unite with their brothers and sisters to implore the gift of unity and communion.” The relevant Catholic News Service story then goes on to say, referring to our theme “Open our ears and loosen our tongues,” so clearly expressed in today’s prayer:
“The theme underlines how important it is to translate the message of Christ into concrete initiatives of solidarity,” the pope said.
“This favors the path of Christian unity, because every action, however small, which Christians make together to relieve the suffering of others helps make more visible their communion and their fidelity to the commandment of the Lord,” he said.
Day 2 – The Saving Word of Christ
‘He makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak’ (Mk 7, 31-37)
God has given me a tongue … that I may know how to sustain the weary
Ps 33 (34):1-16
I will bless the Lord at all times
Jesus is the image of the invisible God
Jesus makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak
Isaiah realizes the cost of the gift that the Lord God has given. He has received the power of a word which can sustain the weary and broken hearted. For this to happen he needs ears with which to listen and learn as a disciple. Since the Lord God has called him, he cannot turn back.
Saint Paul understood that the definitive Word has been spoken in Jesus Christ. Paul portrays for us humanity in the unity of its relations with the Son of God, image of the invisible God in whose likeness we have been created. God has rescued us from the power of darkness and taken us into the kingdom of his Son in whom we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins. We are one through our baptism in Christ, for we are united to him and Jesus reconciles all things to God. Through the blood of his cross Jesus has given us lasting peace.
The gospel passage illustrates how the power of Jesus enables the deaf to hear his saving word and then to proclaim it to others. Curiously, Jesus commanded those present to remain silent about what they had seen but, like all good news, this could not be contained. Those present became witnesses to the saving power of God’s chosen one. It is not only the healed person who proclaims the goodness of the Lord but all those who have witnessed it.
In the South African context as in the gospel, someone will be touched by the Lord and be freed to speak about his or her condition. In turn, this will allow the church to minister to him or to her. As a result others will be able to do the same. This leads to many tongues being loosened and ears being unstopped. Many people living under the conspiracy of silence surrounding such taboo issues as the abuse of women and children, crime in society and HIV/AIDS will step forward to break the silence which in turn will enable others to minister to those most in need. In this context we can see how God continues to open ears and free tongues to hear and then proclaim the saving Word of Christ. It is our common faith celebrated in baptism that enables us to proclaim together the compassion of Christ. In spite of suffering, we become one as we come nearer to Christ by recognizing that in Christ all things are reconciled and held together. This is rooted in the oneness of baptism and the subsequent obligation to glorify God in his work.
God of compassion, you have spoken your saving Word in Jesus. Through his intercession, we pray that our ears may be open to the cry of people caught in the conspiracy of silence. May Jesus loosen our tongues, that together we may proclaim his healing love for those who suffer in silence. Strengthen us by the grace of our common baptism, that the unity we have in Christ may be our strength in bringing hope to those who despair. And together let us proclaim our deliverance through Christ our Lord. Amen.