Eyes opened to Jesus and Ears unsealed to his Good News

Homily for the Twenty-Third Sunday Year B

by Fr. Tommy Lane

When I was studying in Rome after one year I changed my accommodation from one religious house to another which was only half the distance from the Biblical Institute where I was studying. In the second religious house my room was by the side of the street and there was a pizzeria opposite. It closed at about midnight every night and all the patrons came pouring out on to the street making a great deal of noise. For the first month it woke me every night but only for the first month. I became accustomed to the noise and it no longer woke me. You could say I became deaf to the noise. (A few months afterwards a room at the other side of the house, the quiet side, became vacant and I moved in to the quiet room.) When you get used to noise you almost become deaf to it.

In our Gospel today there is a man who is deaf and Jesus heals him. Jesus’ ministry fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah in our first reading

…the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
the ears of the deaf unsealed…(Isa 35:5)

Our modern western world has become deaf to the words of Jesus, as deaf as the man in the Gospel, but it is not a physical deafness, it is a spiritual deafness caused by sin. We have become so used to sin that we take it as normal and we have become deafened and blinded to Jesus and his call to us. Pope John Paul II, before he left Ireland on October 1st 1979, said in Limerick in prophetic words that are more and more relevant as the years go by,

“Ireland must choose. You the present generation of Irish people must decide; your choice must be clear and your decision firm. Let the voice of your forefathers, who suffered so much to maintain their faith in Christ and thus to preserve Ireland’s soul, resound today in your ears through the voice of the Pope when he repeats the words of Christ: “What will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his life?” (Matt 16:26) What would it profit Ireland to go the easy way of the world and suffer the loss of her own soul? Your country seems in a sense to be living again the temptations of Christ: Ireland is being asked to prefer the “kingdoms of the world and their splendor” to the kingdom of God (see Matt 4:8). Satan, the tempter, the adversary of Christ, will use all his might and all his deceptions to win Ireland for the way of the world. What a victory he would gain, what a blow he would inflict on the Body of Christ in the world, if he could seduce Irish men and women away from Christ. Now is the time of testing for Ireland. This generation is once more a generation of decision…”
(Homily of Pope John Paul II in Limerick, Monday October 1st, 1979)

It does not seem that we are listening to the words of the Pope. We are going the way of the world and are becoming deaf to the words of Jesus.

The deaf man in the Gospel was healed by Jesus, and Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, writes of Jesus’ ministry in beautiful words that are so full of meaning for today’s Gospel,

all who suffer because their lives are in some way “diminished” thus hear from him the “good news” of God’s concern for them, and they know for certain that their lives too are a gift carefully guarded in the hands of the Father (§32)

We suffer and are diminished through sin but Jesus has good news for us, that our lives are a gift carefully guarded in the hands of our Father. The Pope made the same point to young people in Galway on September 30th 1979,

“How many young people have already warped their consciences and have substituted the true joy of life with drugs, sex, alcohol, vandalism and the empty pursuit of mere material possessions. Something else is needed: something that you will find only in Christ, for he alone is the measure and the scale that you must use to evaluate your own life. In Christ you will discover the true greatness of your own humanity; he will make you understand your own dignity as human beings “created to the image and likeness of God” (Gen 1:26). Christ has the answers to your questions and the key to history; he has the power to uplift hearts. He keeps calling you, he keeps inviting you, he who is the “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).”
(Homily in Galway, Sunday September 30th 1979)

Let us answer the call of Jesus, the way and the truth and the life. May our eyes become opened to Jesus and our ears unsealed to his good news. May we who suffer because our lives are diminished through sin hear the good news of God’s concern for us and know for certain that our lives are a gift carefully guarded in the hands of our Father.

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

More homilies for the Twenty-Third Sunday Year B

Slow Down to Enjoy Life and Hear Jesus

Ephphatha: Christ raises us to a New Level 2012

Related Homilies: on Jesus as healer Jesus our Healer

Second Reading: We are all Equal in Dignity before God