He was a young man growing up on a farm. He was a good boy, did his chores as he should, obeyed his uncle and aunt who were raising him. He liked to have fun with his friends and drive very fast. Ambition pulled him away from home; he wanted to go to college. His uncle told him that if he waited just one more year longer, he could arrange things so he wasn’t needed and could go, but he was needed now to help out, there was just too much to do, and he couldn’t be spared. So the young man bided his time.
Then one day, his uncle bought a couple of androids. Oh, did I mention that he lived on a different planet. As he was getting the new androids ready to work on the farm, one of them played a hologram of a young lady asking for help. This led Luke Skywalker to Obi Wan Kenobi, and that opened a new universe and a new purpose in life up for him. Hearing this voice changed his life, led him on a journey that took him to places he’d only dreamed of.
In the time of Christ, they didn’t have holograms; they lived in an oral culture. There were books, however, the spoken word was the most important to folks. Being deaf in those times was a great burden; it meant that you were isolated from the world. It meant that you didn’t usually have a way to learn, for everything was taught through story and conversation. It meant that you couldn’t practice your faith either; the Word was Scripture read aloud. Remember the beginning of the Gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word.” There was no silent reading of books or letters in that day; people who could read did it out loud so that everyone who couldn’t read could hear what the author had to say and learn. Being deaf was a great calamity.
Jesus opening the deaf man’s ears was the opening of many new universes to the fellow. He could now learn, he could now relate to the people around him, he could now listen to God. The ability to listen gave him the ability to speak as well, although we are able to teach deaf people to speak these days, it wasn’t something that was done in ancient times. Being able to hear gave him a voice, a voice he never had before.
It’s easy for us to get caught up in the daily chores of our little worlds, tending our own fields, so to speak. It’s easy to block out the great cacophony of life we don’t want to listen to, either by changing the channel on our TV’s and radios or by ignoring what they have to say when the news comes on. The isolation isn’t protection, and the Storm Troopers of misfortune can come to our door at any time. We need to be able to listen, we need to hear the Word. It’s not something we can do alone, either. The Gospel doesn’t continue the story: the man may have had a long time learning how to understand what he heard and be able to speak; he had a long road ahead of him once he was restored and it took other people to help him.
We come here today for Jesus to open our ears and our eyes and our mouths. We come here today for Jesus to expand our universes, to make us aware. We aren’t called to be Jedi Knights, but we have to recognize who much we need each other to be able to use our new senses. We come to share the Word together, we come to share Christ’s Body and Blood together, we come to help each other live in this kingdom that Jesus opens up for us.