Psalm 32:1-2, 5-7
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak. (Mark 7:37)
Have you ever watched a baby learning to talk? She looks intently at her parent’s mouth that forms words. She attempts to repeat sounds. Before long, she is forming words that name people and things important in her world.
But sometimes this process seems to drag. The baby doesn’t babble but may just groan. She doesn’t look in the direction of a startling sound. Lullabies don’t seem to calm her.
When parents notice such difficulties, they try to find out if the baby has a hearing problem. Quite often, a medical intervention like cochlear implants or hearing aids, coupled with speech therapy, can dramatically improve the child’s ability to speak. It makes sense, doesn’t it? The more you can hear, the better you can speak.
Isn’t this what happened to the man in today’s Gospel reading? He was deaf, and that deafness led to a speech impediment. So as soon as Jesus opened the man’s ears, the speech impediment vanished, and the man was able to speak clearly.
Perhaps you’ve been concerned about a “speech impediment” of your own. Maybe a friend is expressing prejudices against the Church that you know to be untrue, but you’re afraid to speak up. Or maybe you have strong political or moral convictions but can’t articulate them in a convincing way.
Instead of getting frustrated trying to figure out what to say, take a step back, and work on your listening skills. Before launching into your convictions or defense of the Church, first listen to what the other person is trying to say. Listen, also, for what may be behind that person’s objections. Is he or she voicing a heartfelt concern about a serious problem? Maybe it’s an issue that you care about as well, but you disagree on the best way to solve it.
If you can listen and find common ground, you may find yourself growing in understanding, even as you suggest alternatives. “What might happen if … .That reminds me of a time when I …” Comments like these tend to promote dialogue rather than close it down. It may require more patience, but the more we listen prayerfully, the better we will be able to speak. The better we will be able to love.
“Jesus, open my ears so that I can speak with your love.”~WAU