‘WHO’S DEAF AND WHO’S MUTE?’ (Lk 11:14-23): 28 February 2008 (Thursday)
They’re way up there with paralytics and lepers. I’m referring to the deaf and the mute–people who are among our Lord’s favorite people to heal. One such occasion is found in the gospel reading today, where our Lord drove out “a demon that was mute” from a man.
This story, like the other miracle stories of Jesus, is an invitation for us to believe in the power of God to work miracles in our lives.
We all have a miracle that we want the Lord to perform in our lives. It may be a miracle of healing—healing from a physical illness or a psychological wound, either for ourselves or for someone we care for. Maybe we are praying for something extraordinary to happen in our lives, a miraculous turn of events, a twist of fate—something that we want so much, but will never get without an intervention from God. Or, we may be praying for the miracle that things would just get better in this world: for war and terrorism to stop once and for all, for example; for an end to all shedding of blood and tears.
Unfortunately, these longed-for miracles do not happen just like that. Look at the world: Wars continue to explode in different parts of our world every single day. And look at our lives: Just yesterday I got a message from a mother who was understandably at her wits’ end because her teenage son had just been diagnosed with a terminal illness.
What a world! That’s why sometimes it may almost seem to us that God does not hear our prayers or answer them. Could it be the case that it is God who is deaf since he doesn’t hear our prayers? Could it be that it is God who is mute since he doesn’t answer us?
I sometimes wish God were like the proverbial vendo machine so that all it takes is that we do something—like say our prayers or make sacrifices—and we automatically get our desired miracle served just the way we want it in the same way we get a favorite cup of coffee whenever we drop a coin into a machine. But God is God, and we need to let him be God–someone beyond our control, someone we can’t manipulate or bribe—not even with prayers or sacrifices.
Precisely because he is God, we also have to accept that he must know better than we do what we need and what is best for us. If God is All-Wise, as we believe he is, then he must know better than we ever will what we really need. And if God is All-Good, as we believe he is, then he must also want for us more than we do what is truly good for us. And so we need to trust that God will perform the miracle that we most need in our lives although it may not be our idea of the miracle we need.
God is far from mute. He is far from deaf. God is far from mute because He does answer our prayers—only he doesn’t answer our prayers always and necessarily in the way we want him to. We sometimes think that he doesn’t answer our prayers because even after he has done that, we’re still not satisfied because it’s really a different answer we’re waiting for. We need to trust that God’s answer is always better, far better, than the answer we want.
God is also far from deaf because even when he doesn’t seem to, he does hear our prayers–perhaps even before we give voice to them. We only think that he doesn’t hear us, that he isn’t listening. But when we pray to God, when we open ourselves to him and beg him for what we need, God listens not only to our voice, but also to our heart. He listens for our deepest desires—and it is these desires, which are longest-lasting, that he heeds.
The problem is, more often than not, we don’t know how to listen to our heart and we don’t know our deepest desires. Distracted by our daily rushing around, pressured by all the voices and noises of the world around us and in us, we are not conscious of our deepest, longest-lasting desires. It seems then that it is we, after all, who are deaf because we don’t hear what our heart of hearts desires. It is we, after all, who are mute because we don’t give voice to these deepest needs of our soul. God hears us more than we hear ourselves. And God answers our needs more than we ourselves do.
There is something that we want God to grant to us in our lives right here and now. It may be something for ourselves, or for someone we love, or for this world of ours. We must pray for that miracle, whatever it is. God wants us to pray for what we think we need. But at the same time, everytime we pray, we must also surrender ourselves to him, that he will know better what we need, and he will want more for us what is good for us. When we approach God in prayer, we ought to give him our heart, trusting that he will hear its deepest prayer and–in his time–answer it in ways far better than we can imagine.
Here’s a Quick Question for you: “Do you recall a time in your life when you really felt that God was ‘deaf and mute’ to your prayers? What made you feel that way?” Think about it, and share a thought, a feeling, or a question.
(image: barcode Jesus)