Archbishop Joseph Harris saw last Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 7:31-37) as being directly connected to himself and built his homily around the theme. “This gospel passage is one which resonates with me very much because as you all know I have a speech impediment. After a spiritual experience which is too long to explain here, my speech impediment began to recede. This cure was rather curious because it manifested itself and continues to manifest itself much more when I am preaching than on other occasions. “The gospel story we know very well. A deaf man is brought to Jesus who put his finger in the deaf man’s ears and then spitting, touched his tongue, and praying, looked up to heaven and said: ‘Be opened’ and immediately the man’s ears were opened and his tongue was loosed.
We are then told: “He ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. The word the author of this gospel used is proclaimed, which carries with it the notion of a public announcement. What did the once deaf man announce. The deaf man proclaimed the good news of his healing. The result of his healing was his announcing of good news. To announce the good news, to proclaim the mighty works of God, one must first hear and then proclaim. “All of us baptised and confirmed have the vocation to proclaim the good news, the mighty works of God. This vocation demands then of all the baptised and confirmed that our ears be opened and our tongue loosed if we are to fulfill the vocation which we have accepted through baptism and confirmation.
“The fact is that often in life we are unable to fulfill the vocation of proclaiming the mighty works of God, and we are unable to fulfill this vocation because our ears are blocked because of the cacophony of sounds and voices in the modern world, sounds and voices which block the voice of God, sounds and voices which, if we let them, distract us from being aware of the mighty works of God being realised under our very noses; voices and sounds which call us to live lives totally different from what God is asking of us. “When this happens it is impossible for us to proclaim anything; our tongues are indeed impeded. Our minds transmit nothing to our tongues and our lives do not allow us to speak with authenticity about God.
“Our tongues are only loosed when we are aware of God’s mighty works and our lives are in accord with God’s desires. This is how the saints lived, however. Mother Teresa of Calcutta could proclaim the mighty works of God because her life was in accord with God’s plan and she paid no attention to the discordant voices and cacophony in the world. Her tongue was loosed. This, too, was the life of Msgr Romero of El Salvador. This, too, was the life of the great saints like Benedict and Dominic and Francis. And this, too, must be our life. In the measure that our life is in accord with God’s plan. In the measure that our lives reflect the gospel our tongues are loosed and we begin to proclaim the mighty works of God.”