6. THE DEAF CAN HEAR God speaks today

Created: Friday, 17 May 2013 Last Updated: Monday, 31 March 2014
6. THE DEAF CAN HEAR
God speaks today

1. The Gospel announces this fundamental experience: God speaks today. As Jesus says to John the Baptist’s messengers, this expected signal is accomplished: “The deaf hear” (Mt 11, 5). This was already announced by the prophets: “On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book" (Is 29, 18). And also, "The ears of the deaf shall be cleared" (35, 5). It is sung in the Psalms: “May you hear his voice” (Psalm 95, 8). But problems, difficulties, resistances arise. To many people the Bible falls out of their hands, it is a sealed book that cannot be opened (Is 29, 11). There are deaf people who cannot hear. Others do not want to. Like it is usually said, there is no worse deaf that the one that does not want to hear.

2. In the Bible, the main religious problem of man is not if God exists or does not exist, but if God speaks or does not speak today. So, man can hear the sound of the Lord walking around in the garden of this world, but he can also hide himself (Gn 3,8); to hear constitutes Israel as People of God (Dt 6,4); God reveals the Word to Israel, something he had not done to any other nation ( Ps 147); before the silent gods of nations, the God of Israel is a God who speaks (Ps 115); his word changes the course of life (Gn 12, 1), he opens a liberation way in history (Ex 3, 10); the prophets shout with voice that no one can silence: “Listen the Word” (Am 3,1; Jr 7, 2);  “it is a word that is accomplished” (Ez 12, 28); without it, the people are hungry, thirsty, wandering (Am 8, 11-12 ); the word is listened by ordinary people, "The revelation of your words sheds light, it gives understanding to the simple" (Ps 119, 130); the Lord opens the ears (Is 50, 5); God speaks to us in the history, and also in the Creation: “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19).

3. For Jesus of Nazareth, to evangelize is to sow the Word (Mk 4,14); the Word grows up, produces fruits (4, 20); it is something necessary, as is the air or the bread (Mt 4,4); around her, true communion, true family are created: “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and accomplish it” (Lk 8,21 ); The person who builds his life in the Word, builds on rock (Mt 7,24); he who rejects it, introduces the most profound division (Jn 10,10); with a word that is fulfilled, Jesus makes the signals that reveal the presence of the Kingdom of God (Mt 8, 8.16), the change of heart that goes together with the forgiveness of sins (Mt 9, 1-7), the mission of the twelve that follows his own mission (Jn 20,21), the signal of the new Covenant ( Mt 26,26-29). All the Scriptures are a testimony in favour of Jesus (Jn 5, 39). He is the word of God made flesh (Jn 1, 14), word rejected by his own people (1, 11), word that makes us children of God (1, 12), word that resurrects the dead (5, 25), word that judges history.

4. For the newborn church, to evangelize is to announce the good news of the Word (Acts 8,4); the Church grows with the spreading of the Word (6,7; 12,24; 19,20), when the gentiles hear it, they become believers, the same than the Jews (10,44; 11,1); the one who evangelizes, announces not the word of man, but the Word of God which is now at work among us (1 Thes 2, 13), a word that is alive and effective (Heb 4,12 ), not enchained (2 Tm 2, 9), a word that compromises, although many trade with it (2 Co 2,17). Finally, to hear or not to hear, to accept or to reject the Word, that is the matter that the Gospel lays out.

5. The fact that God speaks is still present today. Vatican Council II proclaims it for our times: "God who spoke long ago, continues talking with the wife of his beloved Son; and the Holy Spirit, by whom the living voice of the Gospel resounds in the Church, and through her in the world, is leading the believers to the whole truth, and makes the Word of God resound in them with abundance." (DV 8); In a special way, God speaks in the Bible: In the Holy Books the Father, who is in heaven, goes lovingly out to meet his children to talk with them (DV 21).
6. It seems important that if God speaks, in whatever way, the believer must listen. This means a respect for God´s initiative (it is God who speaks, not man), a necessary discernment (personal, pastoral, communitarian) and finally, to embrace something that above all is a gift of God (not a product of man). Certainly, all Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, for training in righteousness ( 2 Tm 3, 16-17 ), but there are situations in which it is clear that God is still talking, or that Christ is involved in the conversation, as happened to the Emmaus walkers (Lk 24,32 )
7. In any case, it is useless to talk about a method, which supposes a human control. The control is placed in the discernment, to avoid deceiving ourselves. God´s word, alive and present today, transcends any method: it is accomplished in the dynamics of the spirit. It is required, for sure, a listening attitude and a faithful discernment, respecting God´s initiative and sheltering, in each case, God´s gift, beyond any rationalism (that considers impossible that God speaks today), beyond any enlightenment (false enlightenment announcing a different Gospel), beyond any magic, play or manipulation (that would falsely pretend to make God to speak)
8. Other aspects. We listen to the Word of God said today in the light of the word of God already said, inserted in the Scriptures and in the living tradition of the Church. In the passage of the temptation, Jesus rejects the word presented by the adversary; he refers to God´s word already said: people cannot live only on bread  (Mt 4, 4), you shall not challenge the Lord your God (4, 7), worship the Lord your God (4, 10). We listen to the word of God at the bottom of the personal, social or ecclesiastic events. To reduce the field of God´s word is a manipulation. The seed of the Word produces fruit: thirty, sixty, one hundred. (Mk 4, 8)
9. Well known is the experience of the Word that makes possible the conversion of Saint Augustine. He had tried to give complete meaning to his life, discounting God. And, in fact, he found himself immersed in a profound mess, unsatisfied and empty, naked like the sinner man (Gn 3, 7). He had heard of several experiences of faith, like the one of Saint Anthony the Abbot, who, after receiving a huge fortune from his parents, he entered in a church just at the moment when it was being proclaimed the Gospel: "Sell everything you have and give it to the poor". He heard it as a word of God directed to him and he did so.
10. Really, Augustine wanted to change but couldn’t. In this situation, in the Milan garden and with tears in his eyes, he prays: "Until when, Lord...?" And from a neighbouring house, a boy or a girl begins to say, "Take and read, take and read". Augustine asks himself what that could mean: Could it be a song, or an old proverb, or perhaps a word of God directed to him? Should he take the Bible and read? He decided to do so and taking the book of the Apostle that he had in his hand, he opened it and began to read at the first spot where his eyes fell. He read this: "Do away with gluttony and drunkenness, promiscuity and licentiousness, rivalries and jealousies. Renew yourselves instead with the Lord Jesus Christ and do not be concerned with desires of the flesh (Rm 13, 13-14). He commented this with his friend Alipio who received it as a word of God and said, "What it says afterwards is for me: Welcome anyone who is weak in the faith" (See Confessions, VIII).
11. According to St. Theresa, Christ speaks today; he speaks to her, "Do you think that he is silent; although we can not hear him, he talks to the heart" (C 24-5). Theresa calls locutions the words that she receives from God. The Lord, when he speaks, repeats - actually - his biblical word. Circumstances of her time made it impossible for Theresa to have access to the Bible. In the Indexes of the years 1551, 1554 and 1559, the publication of the Holy Scriptures was forbidden in vernacular language and it was only allowed as citations in books of religious character. The Word reaches her “so suddenly, unexpectedly, even sometimes in the middle of a conversation, in the core of the spirit, with power and dignity, speaking and doing good deeds”
12. St. John of the Cross also speaks  about God´s locutions. “And they are of so much actuality and value, that they are life, virtue and incomparable good to the soul, because one of these words does more good than what the soul itself has done in all its existence. In regards to them, the soul has nothing to do (nothing to want, nothing to leave, nothing to reject, nothing to fear)...Blessed is the soul to which God speaks. Speak, Lord, your servant hears you (1R 3, 10; The Ascent of Mt. Carmel, XXXI).
13. Let´s see Bartholomew de las Casas´ experience.  Bartholomew arrives to America on the 15th of April 1502, nine years after the discovery, and with Ovando he takes part in the violent conquest of the Taino Indians. He is ordained as a priest in 1511. In 1523 he joins the Dominicans. From January 1513 he participates with Pánfilo de Narváez in the conquest of the island of Cuba, where the Christian European domination is imposed “by fire and sword”. Based on the distribution system, Bartholomew receives a group of Indians to work for him. Being accomplice of the violence he also becomes accomplice of the exploitation. “The clergyman Bartholomew de las Casas, he himself writes, was very busy and solicitous with his farm earnings, like the others, sending to the mines the Indians pertaining to his distribution, to get out gold and to make sown land, an taking advantage of them as much as he could”.
14. Apparently everything was under control, when a quite normal event came to put things under scrutiny. The conqueror Diego Velázquez arrives and “like in the whole island there was neither clergy nor friar”, he asks Bartholomew de las Casas to celebrate a mass and to proclaim the Gospel. The feast was Pentecost, year 1514. The question is that Bartholomew “began to think for himself about some authorities of the Scriptures”. And he found that passage of Sirac (34, 18 – 22) that left him stunned: “An offering to God from stolen goods is a stained offering; such sacrifices do not please God. The Most High takes no pleasure in the offering of the godless. It is not the number of victims that obtains pardon for sin. Offering to God from what belongs to the poor is like slaughtering a son in the presence of his father. Bread is life to the poor; he who takes it from them is a murderer. He who deprives others of a livelihood kills them, and whoever withdraws the salary of a worker is guilty of blood.”
15. Bartholomew could not celebrate his mass. Applying the one (the biblical text) and the other (the misery and servitude suffered by those people), “he decide by himself, convinced of the same truth, that everything carried out about the Indians in this India was unjust and tyrannical”. Therefore, he liberated his Indians (“he fully decided to leave them”) and begun his prophetic preaching first in Cube, then in Saint Dominic, later in Spain and afterwards in all Indian kingdoms, “leaving everybody admired and even scared by what he told them”. That passage from the book of Sirac had an impressive strength.
* For individual or group revision: What does the Word of God mean to you? What God said (in the past), God speaks today (in the present), what Christ said (in the past), Christ speaks today (in the present). Or also, do I listen to the Word of God? How do I listen to it?
- As word of God in the personal, social, ecclesial events
- As a living and effective word that involves my whole personality
- I insist in what awakes or expresses transparent life experiences
- As a mirror in which my life is reflected
- As a matter of study
- I respect God´s initiative, without forcing it
- I listen to the word of God said today in the light of the word of God already said.
- Discernment is necessary: personal, pastoral, communitarian.