Giving voice to the voiceless

Today’s Gospel, Mark 7: 31-37, is full of surprises, revealing a God who acts in new and imaginative ways.

The man who is deaf and has trouble speaking does not come to Jesus on his own. Others bring him. Did he fear coming to Jesus, not being able to tell Him what he wanted? Or did he not realize his condition and therefore did not see the need to come to Jesus for healing? Or did he not think that Jesus could or would heal him – after all he’s just another deaf-mute?

But Jesus takes him apart and heals the man, touching his ears and putting spittle on his tongue. A word was not enough. Jesus touched him.

And then Jesus called to him “Ephaphatha – be opened.” And he heard and “spoke plainly.”

The man’s voice was returned to him.

The people marveled at this and noted that “He has done all things beautifully. He makes the deaf hear and he makes those who do not speak speak.”

The Greek of the last line struck me: ἀλάλους λαλεῖν. It could easily be translated as giving voice to the voiceless.

Jesus opened the ears of the man so that he could hear the words of God to “open up,” to listen to the Word of God, a word that calls us to live our true dignity as children of God.

But he also gives the man the gift of being able to speak rightly, clearly. He restores his true voice to the man.

So many people do not have a voice in this world.

Sometimes we do not speak up because of fear, because of timidity, because we have not listened to the Word of God and heard the cries of the poor and vulnerable.

But so many are without voice, not heard, not listened to. Or their voices are muffled. Or they have given up speaking because of the indifference of others. Or the hears of those who could hear are closed to them.

But Jesus heals and gives the poor back their voice – if we would listen.

This is what I think people like Monseñor Romero did for the people of El Salvador in the late 1970s, letting them lift up their voices. He is often called “the voice of the voiceless” but he was also one who affirmed the people when they raised their voices against the repression.

This is what I think the Guatemalan bishops just did when they supported the people of Guatemala who were calling for an end to corruption and impunity and then took to the streets to call for the resignation of a corrupt president.

This is what I think Pope Francis is trying to do and what he did when he held the open meeting via ABC News with refugee families in Texas, with homeless people in Los Angeles, and with poor young students at Cristo Rey school in Chicago.

It’s what God can do with us, letting us listen to the poor, the refugee, the marginalized and letting their voice be heard.

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