Spiritual deafness?

GOD'S WORD TODAY - Ruben M. Tanseco S.J. - The Philippine Star

Today’s Gospel narrative is about a man who was physically deaf, and was mercifully healed by Jesus (Mk. 7:31-37). But before the healing, “He took him off by himself away from the crowd” (v. 33).

Nowadays, many of us are so busy with so many things — from multitasking, sports, recreation, trips to malls and supermarkets, the internet, and what-have-you. Many of us end up by suffering from relational and spiritual deafness.

A weekend spiritual retreat was conducted for a group of very busy parishioners who were able to find time for it. Among the retreatants was a husband who had been deaf to the expressed needs of his wife for marital affection, companionship, and time for just the two of them. This had been the situation for years. Another retreatant was a housewife who had been deaf to the long-standing pakiusap of her househelp who was underpaid and overworked. A third one was a rich employer whose employees were deprived of the just wages that they deserved and the benefits that they badly needed.

The retreat director accompanied the whole group through a series of quieting down sessions, until the retreatants were able to experience total silence and solitude in God’s presence. Progressively throughout the weekend, the retreatants who really surrendered themselves to God’s presence were able to listen to God’s will for each one of them. They woke up to the reality that they had been suffering from moral and spiritual deafness that needed healing. And like that deaf man in today’s Gospel story, they surrendered themselves to Christ, who healed them in the silence of their hearts.

After the retreat, all of the three mentioned above went home, healed from their spiritual deafness. The husband was no longer deaf to the needs of his wife. The housewife increased her housemaid’s salary and lessened her workload. The employer became a hero to his own employees!

This brings us to our daily prayerlife, even just twenty to thirty minutes of total silence and solitude in God’s presence. You can start by quieting down your whole body, slowly and gradually. Then slowly close your eyes and keep them closed but relaxed. Begin to be aware of your own, normal breathing — every breath of air that comes in and out of you. This is nothing less than the breath of life, without which your life will stop and cease to be. Then, become aware of the loving and sustaining presence of God in every breath of life that comes in and out of you, for He is the very source and author of life. Feel His loving presence within you, in the very depth of your being, and just stay there for a while. Begin to feel and relish His deep love for you. He is no less than your Creator, and you belong to Him!

Responding to His presence within you, quietly express in your heart your sentiments of gratitude and love for the Lord, and for the gift of your life. Then, start to listen, to what the Lord may be trying to say to you, in the silence of your heart. This is the prayer of discernment. Whatever the all-loving and compassionate God is asking from you is for your own good and growth, no matter how difficult or easy it may be, through thick and thin, light and darkness, success and failure, joy and pain. God is your constant companion through it all. The end of spiritual deafness.

Beyond the formal and habitual period of silence and solitude, you will be able to carry within you this inner awareness of God’s presence, which will make all the difference in the way you relate to the world outside of yourself, for you can feel His presence wherever you go, whatever you are doing, and whoever you are relating to. There are times when you may fail, but let this not discourage you. This is intrinsic to our being human. To be a contemplative-in-action is our lifelong journey. But it is worth every minute of it.

All of creation is the primal revelation of God, and His loving and sustaining presence is in every corner of the world. Wherever life is, there God’s presence is. Plants, animals, the skies, rain, and sunshine. And the crowning point of all creation is the human person.

The beauty and the bounty of all creation are lovingly orchestrated and held together by God in such a way that everything lives on, from generation to generation through the cycles of eternity. An inner and living awareness of all this is a way of life, a creation-centered spirituality, a growing and felt experience of our unity with the Creator as well as our unity and interconnectedness with the rest of creation, namely, all other peoples, cultures, and religions lived and expressed thru love and justice that move toward peace. Interfaith and cosmic spirituality. This is humanity’s mission.

In God’s own time, may we all be liberated from spiritual deafness and be united under our one and only Creator. Amen.

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