BIA Benedict XVI Institute for Africa
Father Zifac

Father Zifac
Diocese of Kumbo

Father Zifac: make room for the unfit/misfit

The gospel is a story about ordinary life – someone hard of hearing, with poor speech, disabilities that challenge us. If you ever had a speech impediment or the difficulty of deafness you’d know the distress it can cause. Jesus was distressed at the suffering of this man. Jesus cares in his heart. Most of Jesus’ life is about the ordinary and is lived among people who are sick, depressed, worried about the future, hiding their shame of the past, losing faith and getting it back. Imagine Jesus touches your ear. He clears resistance and you hear love, for the touch of Jesus on your ear is the touch of love, of life, of new hearing. His touch on the tongue gave the life of new speech and new freedom to a stammering man.

Most of us have deficits, deficiencies, limitations that ensure our life will always be marked by struggles, demands that must be overcome if we are to continue onward toward Heaven and home. If our deficiencies aren’t apparent now, they will become apparent as time passes. We accept one another, but we are painfully aware of the limitations that mark those with whom we associate. This tendency for people to focus on obvious deficits characterizing others is not something that only became apparent in these latter days.

Those with physical limitations, and especially those suffering emotional deficits, were ostracized during the days when Jesus walked the dusty trails of Judea. It hasn’t been all that many years past that the same attitudes expressed in Jesus’ day were prevalent throughout society. I suspect that most of those biases continue to this day—we just don’t speak of them. Perhaps society is more polite than at earlier times, though I suspect that we are more cowardly, less willing to be confrontational. Society frowns on honesty, preferring to hide behind euphemisms to mask prejudices. All the high-minded silence that marks contemporary society hides some rather ugly biases—biases that spontaneously erupt from time-to-time.

And there is nothing funny about the pain some of us experience, nothing funny about the loss of freedom such crippling pain brings. And so the man who is cured in the Gospel is not someone to neglect the pain he had undergone before his miracle.

At our baptism we were signed with the sogn of the cross on our lips amd ears with these same words of Jesus in the Gospel today: “Be opened”. This is an invitation for us to be like Jesus : compassionate and prayerful. And this involves opening our ears to heards call amd opening our mouths to proclaim God’s love and will.

Let us ask Jesus oncemore to touch us too and heal us whenever we call. Let us pray for the grace to be open to his call and invitaion to witness to Him.

May he grant our prayers,