Isn’t it just the best??!!
These are the words that greeted me as I entered Saint Stephen’s Church in Lacombe, Alberta, on Sunday. Since Bishop Gregory Bittman had consecrated it, this was my first opportunity to see the new edifice. It truly is beautiful, and the people were understandably very excited to show it to me.
Also clear was a great energy among the people of the parish not only for their building but also, and most importantly, for the mission of the Church. In fact, it was this mission, and those things that can drain us of energy for it, that were the focus of my reflections for the homily at mass.
The Gospel was the familiar story from St. Mark of the cure by Jesus of a man who was both deaf and mute (cf. Mark 7: 31-37). In our day, we find ourselves surrounded by a great deal of noise that deafens us to the Word of God. Whether it comes from Internet, radio, TV or social media, it all merges into a cacophony inside our heads, a noise that distracts our attention and fractures our lives. This weakens the focus and zeal we wish to bring to evangelization. The Gospel passage on Sunday thus became a call to ask Jesus to heal this deafness to His Word and, in this way, renew us for mission.
And what about being mute? We know that we are called to speak the truth of the Gospel in our day, but there can grow within us an anxiety and fear that keep our tongues still. The widespread allergy in the culture to the Gospel often causes our proclamation of it to be met with disdain or marginalization. This can engender a fear that keeps us from speaking. Here the call from Sunday’s Gospel text is to ask Jesus to free our tongues by instilling within us the gift of a deep and confident trust in his presence and power.
The Lord wants to awaken within us, by the gift of his Holy Spirit, a great energy for the mission of carrying the good news of who he is, the good news of the life that he brings, to a world that sorely needs the message. If we find ourselves growing deaf from the noise of our surrounding culture or becoming mute from fear, let’s pray that Jesus will do for us what he did for the man in the Gospel: restore our hearing and liberate our speech so that we can be the disciples that he calls us to be.