“Courage! do not be afraid..look, your God is coming, vengeance is coming, the retribution of God ; he is coming to save you” ..not just words of consolation & compassion for the downtrodden, but of reprisal punishment for the perpetrator.. ..we long for respite mercy & compassion from our God for our midemeanours & their consequences, & yet, with gritted teeth we demand full payback with interest from those who have wounded us.. ..very OT & sadly still very Catholic for some of us.. & God offers restoration to four groups of disabled individuals ; blind deaf lame & dumb ..so what of you & I? why are we not mentioned , left out by default or design? this is a moment to come clean & admit to our own disability..we suffer from at least one if not all four ailments..blind deaf lame & dumb & now, having come clean, we ask for Our Lords loving compassion & healing..
“..the eyes of the blind shall be opened..” Lord help me see again .. ; Lord have mercy “..the ears of the deaf unsealed..” if it is you Lord tell me to come .. ; Christ have mercy “..the tongues of the dumb sing for joy..” Alleluia Alleluia .. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..he left Tyre & Sidon, on boundaries of his home ground of Galilee, & arrived in the Decapolis region..one of most faithful Schools who come to us on retreat is St Josephs /St Bedes College Bradford; now & again I visit them on home ground in inner city Bradford..the Decapolis region, undeniably alien if not pagan territory a Muslim enclave a profound sense of me stepping onto hostile foreign ground..& it was there, far beyond Our Lord’s comfort zone, that “they” brought him deaf man with impediment in his speech..& who were the “they”? & what was deaf & dumb man’s name & background?.a leafy afflent rural North Yorkshire or a West Riding woollen district ghetto?..was he able to hear & speak at one time but then lost both through accident or illness? we don’t know or we do know..Mark leaves anonymity for you & I to write in real live characters we know & now recognise in guise of gospel characters..Clare Jennings?..& more to point is it you?..are you one of “them” who bring disabled to Our Lord?.. or is deaf & dumb man you?..at that point Jesus took him/you off “away from crowd” for a 1:1 moment..crowd encapsulating full spectrum of belief/unbelief; thirst/revulsion; faith/doubt; the warm cold & tepid..an extraordinarily graphic tactile description, mind blowing & revolting..& yet at its heart is invasive surgery, a self surrender into hands/expertise of a skilled spiritual surgeon..a practice nurse gently using warm water wand to syringe our ears; a dentist given licence painfully to do all that is necessary for up to an hour inside our mouth, & utter relief of seeing her put drill to one side & begin recovery restoration process..& to hear again & to speak again clearly painlessly, a wonderful feeling to be experienced & then shared rather than merely told..”& the Word became flesh & lives among us” “& his ears were opened, his tongue loosened & he spoke clearly” & suddenly the intimacy of 1:1 ends, Jesus tells “them” “to tell no one about it”..a strange warning as they hadn’t been in on the miracle.. he is keen to caution them not to give second hand heresay news of it..in Marks gospel it is called the messianic secret ; time & again Jesus didn’t want people to be told cheaply of someone else’s experience, he wanted them/you to go through it first hand..this Mass or an hour in dentists chair, & then to emerge not to tell of it, but for your life changing experience to be noticed felt heard seen by blind numb & deaf..in 17yrs of retreat work at Ampleforth most memorable retreat was to spend 48hr with 35 adults..5 talks & not once did one of them give me eye contact..it was my one & only retreat with a companion Br Nathanael..my listeners were all deaf & Nathanael was gifted at sign language..sat next to me & as I spoke he signed every word as retreatants concentrated on him..so strange to see them 1:1 with him & me on outside..our gift is to be trained proficient skilled at sign language, at showing others by small works /gestures of charity 15times daily, signs that don’t need words..done silently with warmth heart-centredness & smile to those like the deaf/us..we can become deafened conditioned by incessant noise of music conversation & traffic..addicted to iphone to extent we become deaf to the divine voice, waiting to be heard in most unexpected places & moments in diguise..some yrs ago used to visit Poor Clare nuns in Arkley to hear Confessions..in gratitude gave me jars of home marmalade expecting me to share it with Community; I didn’t; I kept it in my office as Procurator..to give away to folk as gesture of appreciation..gave one to cleaner who looked after Abbey Church..she wrote note of thanks “the Abbey is a beautiful place & I feel privileged to work in the heart of the Catholic surround; being in the Abbey is not a work but a labour of love..many visitors walk through it, floor wet or dry, & some stop to say how nice the Abbey is & how clean it all looks [ feather in my cap]. Someone said to me once it was kind of me to clean a Catholic Church since I am CofE religion, but the Lord doesn’t mind does he? So why should his own followers? I am devoted to my work & feel I am part of the Abbey. I know every nook & crannie in the inside of the Abbey & I feel also that the Lord knows me as much.Thank you again for your holy gift, & thank you for letting me work inside your heart.”..”he has done all things well” through those who are prepared to listen, to interpret sign language & the aroma of goodness & holiness..& to tell simple story of ordinary jar of marmalade..”thank you for letting me work inside your heart” invasive heart surgery performed on a driven monk Procurator by an ordinary cleaner “she has done all things well.”..now please, you go & do likewise.. [23rdSunYrB Mk7;31-37]