“Ephphatha! Be opened!” Mark 7:34
Politicians hear a lot of voices. It’s getting near to a national Election Day, and I can see this reflected in the hourly newscasts. Politicians and elected officials hear the voices of the voters and their families for sure, but also their special interest groups, their advisers, the other politicians, the media, and their donors and fundraisers.
But do they ever truly listen?
In Man of the Year, Robin Williams plays Tom Dobbs, a Jon Stewart-inspired late night comedian who decides to run for the Presidency of the United States. He hears a lot of voices swirling around him, including an unwelcome one from a woman who wants to inform him of illegal voting issues. His advisers tell him this is one voice he should not listen to. But Dobbs is an honest politician, and he decides to listen anyway.
What is inspirational is that this upstream voice is telling him that he shouldn’t even hold public office, and even more inspirational is that he actually listens to it. (Remember this is a fictional story of politics; we can only pray to God this can actually happen!).
In a world where we have talking heads on every cable channel, and where we are constantly talking and talking, where, when, and how is there time to listen clearly?
In the gospels, Christ opens the ears of the deaf on more than one occasion. But these miracles are not just medical breakthroughs, but a life lesson to those around him. By giving the deaf the gift of hearing, he is telling those around him: Open your ears, shut your mouths, and just listen for a change. And when we read those gospel passages, I think Christ is still imploring us to do the same, now more than ever.
So what are we listening for?
We stop to listen for the wisdom in others’ voices. Christ can use others to speak to us; therefore, the words of Christ might just be on the lips of the next person we run into.
In my life, I find that God speaks to me not through visions or even at Sunday mass, but more often than not, he speaks to me through those I meet in my daily routine. Perhaps it was the person behind the counter at Starbucks or the one sitting next to me on the train to work, or my wife when I come home from a long day at the office. God can use any of us to be the conduit through which he speaks.
We are called to open our ears, close our mouths, and let God through.
Postscript: We are also called to listen to all voices, even the ones we don’t want to hear. At election time, there are too many people listening only to voices that they enjoy hearing; we are challenged to hear what else might be out there. Unless we appreciate what all sides have to say, how can we truly make a well-informed vote or even a well-thought-out decision in our daily lives? Let’s challenge our own selves to, as Christ said, “Ephphatha! Be opened!” (Mark 7:34) and open our lives to all that God might be calling us to do.