Year B Proper 18 Mark 7 2012
The Man Who Couldn't Hear
In ancient Greece it was customary for peddlers who walked the streets with their wares to cry out, "What do you lack?" The idea was to let people know they were in the vicinity, and also rouse the curiosity of the people. Coming out of their houses they would want to know what the peddler was selling. It might be something they lacked and needed, or simply something they desired.
What do you lack? We may have sight and hearing, but what do we lack? Take an honest inventory of yourself. Have you found contentment? Are you close enough to God to receive his guidance and strength? Have you secured peace of heart and peace of mind, invaluable assets in life? Deciding what we lack is the first step in securing it. Christ can fulfill our needs -- needs that are to some extent physical, but, more so, the deepest needs of heart, mind, and soul.
The man in Mark 7 lacked the physical ability to hear. But many of us lack the spiritual ability to hear. We suffer a kind of a spiritual deafness. The affliction of not listening to people, or, to put it another way, the affliction of physically listening to people, yet failing to comprehend, to understand, and come to grips with what they are saying, is a plague upon the Church. For, you see, it is possible to listen to a person, yet fail to really hear them...
You're a Treasure!
"I want to be alone."
That was the famous declaration made by the early Swedish film star and glamour girl Greta Garbo (1905-1990). But it was that declaration that jinxed her search for solitude. A vast cast of has-been, over-the-hill actors and actresses struggled to stay in focus but swiftly faded out of the limelight and into obscurity. But Garbo, by her very insistence on alone-time, was hounded by media hangers-on until her death in 1990. To get a picture of Greta Garbo remained a paparazzi "holy grail" throughout her life.
We are more alone and less alone these days than ever before. Humans have always lived in communities, in tribes, in families — for protection, for food, for companionship, for love. In the twenty-first century urban living is the norm, with large populations of people gathered around a commercial/communal core. But even as we live lives more closely packed, we are more solitary. Education and economics have made it possible for more people to "make it" on their own. What for centuries had been the culturally and economically determined "norm" — to marry and produce a family in order to survive — is no longer viewed as a necessity. In America, the new norm is singledom. Half of all adults are unmarried, and 15% of those singles live by themselves. In Scandinavia it is estimated that by 2020 half of all "households" will be occupied by only one individual.
But singledom does not mean we are alone...