23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time          

            We are meant to discover in today’s gospel story of the healing of a deaf man a kind of deeper story of healing. There is another dimension we must see in it. According to Bishop Robert Barron, this story is all about evangelization. We have to read this gospel story in the context of the proclamation the Good News.

            And so, we must be aware of the symbolisms contained in this story. For example, the place where the story takes place – in the district called “the Decapolis” – is symbolic. Decapolis literally means “the ten cities.” It is a highly secularized district outside Israel.

            A place is said to be secularized when it has abandoned or even rejected religious beliefs and values and has turned to worldly considerations. Decapolis is a place not formed by the Word of God, but shaped by worldly influences. It is a place attuned to the voices and noises of the world but deaf to the voice of God. It is symbolic of the place of unhearing – where one is rendered incapable of hearing God. It is the realm of spiritual deafness.

            Because we have a highly secularized culture, we live in the realm of spiritual deafness. Much of our culture today can be described as Decapolis. There is so much worldliness and materialism, so much diversion and distraction, so much amusement and entertainment.

            At any given moment, we hear so many voices. All these voices compete to get our attention. They are loud and confusing voices: telling us what to do, where to go, how to think, whom to follow… teaching us how to get ahead of others in this competitive world… making us think only of our own welfare, security, and interests… persuading us to embrace and live out the values of materialism… offering us their own brand of thrill, enjoyment, and happiness… trying to entertain us and give us pleasure and satisfaction… telling us to vote for them. We are bombarded with voices from outside, overloading and overwhelming our ears, until we become incapable of hearing – like the deaf man in today’s gospel story.

            Our secularized culture, the present-day Decapolis, makes us deaf to God’s Voice, to God’s Word. It makes us incapable of hearing the Voice that speaks of higher divine truths… that speaks of eternal moral values… that speaks of invitation to share in the divine life… that speaks of the meaning and purpose of life… that speaks of forgiveness, healing and restoration… that speaks of goodness and kindness, of mercy and compassion, of generosity and self-giving, of service and ministry, of communion and fellowship, of grace and blessing. We are deaf to the Voice that speaks to us of his Love – or we simply refuse to listen attentively to that Voice.

            Therefore, we are incapable of articulating these divine truths. Because we cannot hear them, we cannot speak them. Our spiritual deafness makes us incapable of speaking of God and of expressing the things of God… incapable of proclaiming the Good News of salvation… incapable of communicating the kingdom values… incapable of calling people to repentance and conversion… incapable of talking about genuine social transformation… incapable of articulating the gospel principles of honesty and decency, of truth and justice, of respect for human life, of peace and love. In other words, because we do not hear the Good News, we cannot speak of the Good News – be it at home or work, be it on social media or ordinary conversation, be it in our political views or convictions about social issues. Sadyang nakalulungkot na maraming Kristiyano na may baluktot na paniniwala at paninindigan – walang batayan sa aral at halimbawa ni Kristo, tahasan pa ngang salungat sa diwa ng Ebanghelyo – dahil ang pinakikinggan ay baluktot ang pag-iisip.

            Let us pray for one another that we may be healed of various forms of deafness that may be afflicting us. Let us sincerely ask the Lord to move us out of the realm of spiritual deafness to the sacred space where we can hear God – where we will listen attentively to his voice. May we hear the Lord as he proclaims the Good News, that what we hear from him we may bring to others – that each of us may personally share and actively participate in the work of evangelization. When we listen attentively to the Good News, we become evangelizers and good news ourselves.  

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