This Sunday’s Gospel about Jesus healing the man who is deaf and mute offers us rich material to reflect on how God heals and restores communication. I was blessed to be able to take this Gospel as the theme of my monthly retreat, and I’d like to highlight three brief points that arose in my reflections.
- How does our communication need healing, as persons and especially as writers and media artists?
I quickly identified with this man, deaf and mute, whose communicative abilities were severely impeded. As I continue to write and even stretch my writing by trying new kinds of writing, my skill as a writer is naturally honed. But recently I’ve become aware that my writing needs more and constant attention. In part, this is because I recognize how easy it is to be misunderstood–even a lack of tweets can be misinterpreted!But I also feel that my style of communication–which includes a somewhat impetuous “diving in”–needs healing. Jesus first touches the man’s ears, then his tongue. True communication begins with listening. I need to learn to listen first, to listen more deeply to what others are truly saying, and not just make assumptions or jump to conclusions. I need to listen more attentively to the Word of God, and to live this Word in my daily life, so that my words reflect the Word.
- Jesus begins the healing process by bringing the man aside, to a place where they could have a genuine, uninterrupted encounter. It is in God, in Christ, that all of our communication, all of our relationships, can be healed and restored.For those of us immersed in the demanding world of fast-paced communication, Jesus encourages us to “go away with him.” In a way, this is like my monthly retreat, or my daily hour of adoration: an opportunity to let go of all the externals in my life–the noise and demands, the distractions, the joys, and the engagement–and take time for an encounter with Christ in which I can be healed, restored, nurtured. I know that I urgently need these daily encounters with Jesus, to prevent my communication from “fraying apart” under the constant pressure and demands.
- Christ’s prayer is very simple, “Be opened!” Jesus opens the path of communication physically, healing the deafness and the tongue’s fluency, but I wonder if Jesus also opens interior paths of communication for this man whose deafness and muteness has isolated him so profoundly. Interior isolation is very painful, and it’s something all of us experience when we are rejected, misunderstood, or ignored. (Sin is the ultimate isolation.) When we’ve experienced the pain of isolation, it takes courage, healing, and grace to open ourselves again.When I’ve miscommunicated, experienced misunderstanding, or misunderstood others’ communication to me, I close the door on the risks of open communication. Jesus seems to be calling me very directly during this retreat to open myself to the working of the Holy Spirit, to allow him to freely speak in me, with me, through me. How I need to grow in this interior openness! My prayer for this month is that I grow more open:
*to God’s love
* to God’s loving call
* to how God wants to enlighten me and speak to me and through me
* to the words and the unspoken communication of others
* to the urgings of the Holy Spirit in the culture and in the longings of humanity, so that I pay special attention both
* to my conversations with others and to the trends in the media
A beautiful reflection on how Jesus communicates in a way that someone who is both deaf and mute can understand–using unusual gestures–can be found here.