There is always a spiritual meaning to what we see in the gospels. And our physical nature and desires point to more important spiritual desires.
A great case in point was chapter 6 of John’s gospel that we finished reading a couple of weeks ago. Jesus feeds the five thousand. He goes away. And all the people look for him because they want him to feed them. They have found a sugar daddy. But Jesus takes them deeper. He shows them the spiritual meaning to their hunger. He speaks about not working for food that will perish but the food that endures for eternal life. He says that their hunger pushes them towards God. The only one who can ultimately fulfill them.
There is always a spiritual meaning to what we see in the gospels.
Today is no different. On a purely literal level, what is actually happening is quite important. This is a miracle that Jesus really performed. The gospels are historically reliable. Jesus actually did these things. And the miracles that Jesus did point to his divinity. He did them to show his divine authority and to draw people to himself. So the miracle of healing the deaf and mute man today is important in it’s own right.
But then again, there is a deeper spiritual meaning.
There is a natural, physical deafness, an inability to hear sound. But there is also a spiritual deafness. An inability to hear the Word of God. This deaf man, incapable of hearing is a sign or image or symbol, of the inability to hear the voice of God.
So we need to be hearers of this word, the voice of God. But what is our problem? Deafness. We are deaf to the Word of God. God is speaking, we are deaf to it. We don’t hear. St. Paul says faith comes from ‘hearing’. This deaf man represents all of humanity up and down the ages, who have been unable to hear the Word of God. This man represents all those who have been unable to discern the voice of God.
Our gospel writer, St. Mark, tells us that this man also had a speech impediment. He had a physical, natural speech impediment, but there is a spiritual meaning to this as well. This speech impediment is a sign of the inability to proclaim the gospel. The inability to defend the faith. The inability to evangelize. This man represents all of us and our incapacity to speak the Word of God to others. How many of us become ‘tongue tied’ when we encounter an evangelical protestant? I know I have…Down in Texas…Are you saved? Many of us may think that this is the priest’s job to do all the evangelizing. Nope, it is your mission too. You encounter people that I can’t. You have relationships with people that I don’t know. You are commanded to preach the gospel to them.
This man was deaf and he dad a speech impediment. There is a connection between deafness and speech impediments. That is often the case.
If one is unable to hear sounds, then they are incapable of articulating sounds. An impediment of speech is often caused by deafness. Therefore, if the deafness is removed, the impediment of speech is removed. That’s exactly what happened to the man in our gospel. Jesus opens his ears and his speech impediment is removed. Therefore, he begins to speak ‘plainly’ we heard in our gospel.
This is the case spiritually as well. If we can’t hear the voice of God, we are unable to articulate the faith. If we are spiritually deaf to the Word of God, we are unable to evangelize. We aren’t attune to the God’s voice, and therefore we are unable to speak about the faith to others. But once we begin to hear the voice of God, then our impediment to proclaiming the gospel, is removed as well.
Now, why can’t we hear the Word of God many times? Why are we deaf to God’s voice? We can’t hear because of all the noise around us. All the competing voices. The literal sounds in our life, but also all the busyness in our lives. There are the lies that the evil one tells us. That we are no good. That God doesn’t care for us, or that what we did is unforgivable. The lies that money or pleasure will bring us happiness. The lie that God doesn’t matter. The evil one has helped shape the world so that we are deaf to the voice of God.
So what do we do? Look at Jesus. What did he do with this deaf man? This is the key. He took him away from the crowd. He took him away from all the noise and sounds and commotion of the crowds. It was then that he was able to heal his deafness and in turn the man was able to speak.
What does the mean for us? We need to get away from the crowd. We need to get away from the noises and commotions that drowns out the voice of God. We need to find a space where we can hear God speaking. We need to immerse ourselves in an environment that allows us to hear God’s voice.
And what is that space? What is that environment? It’s the whole Catholic Church. And I don’t mean just coming to Church. But rather living our whole lives within the Catholic Church. By immersing ourselves in Scripture, by finding quiet times to pray daily, by learning the teachings of the Church and how to defend them, by receiving the Sacraments. Through the Sacred Liturgy, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, regular confession. Through these things, God speaks to us. By reading the lives of the saints, getting to know them. By building friendships with other good Catholics. By listening to podcasts on the faith. By paying attention to all the holy days and feast days of the saints. By filling our homes with images of Mary and Jesus and crucifixes. By praying with our families and at meals.
When we live our life immersed in the Church and not according to the world, that is when we hear the Word of God. We hear the voice of God by living authentic Catholic lives.
By living lives fully immersed in the life of the Church, we hear the word of God, and therefore we are able to speak it to others. You don’t feel up to snuff in articulating the faith? Go deeper into the life of the Church, the bible, the liturgy, the devotions, the whole life of the Catholic Church and watch how you are more able to hear the Word of God and more courageously proclaim it.