Pope Francis: ‘Deafness of Heart’ Worse than That of the Ears

Pope Francis: ‘Deafness of Heart’ Worse than That of the Ears

ROME, Italy — Pope Francis urged Christians Sunday to let Jesus heal them from interior deafness and so learn to listen to God and to others.

“We all have ears, but many times we are unable to listen,” the pope told pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter’s Square. “There is in fact an interior deafness, which today we can ask Jesus to touch and heal.”

“And that inner deafness is worse than the physical one, because it is the deafness of heart,” he added.

The pontiff was reflecting on the Sunday Gospel, which recounts Jesus’ healing of a deaf-mute by placing his fingers in his ears and touching his tongue with saliva, speaking the words: “Be opened.”

“Being deaf and dumb is a disease, but it is also a symbol,” Francis said, which “has something to say to all of us.”

“The man couldn’t speak because he couldn’t hear,” he continued. “In fact, to heal the cause of his ailment, Jesus first places his fingers in his ears, then in his mouth, but first in his ears.”

We are all tempted to an interior deafness, the pope reflected, for which we need healing.

“Caught up in haste by a thousand things to say and do, we do not find the time to stop and listen to those who speak to us,” he said. “We risk becoming impermeable to everything and not giving space to those who need someone to listen.”

“I am thinking of children, young people, the elderly, many who do not need words and sermons so much, but someone to listen,” he declared.

“How many times do we talk without first listening, repeating our own ideas that are always the same!” he continued. “Unable to listen, we always say the same things, or we don’t let the other finish speaking, expressing himself, and we interrupt.”

The rebirth of dialogue often begins with silence, he said, “with patience to listen to others, to listen to their trials, what they carry inside.”

“Healing of the heart begins with listening,” he insisted.

What is true for human relationships also goes for our relationship with God, Francis suggested. “We do well to shower Him with petitions, but we had better listen to him first.”

Jesus asks for it, the pope continued, reminding his hearers that when asked what the first commandment is, Jesus replied: “Hear, O Israel,” only afterward adding, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart… and your neighbor as yourself.”

“Jesus is the Word. If we do not stop to listen to him, he passes by,” the pope added.

“Here is the remedy: every day a little silence and listening, fewer useless words and a little more of God’s Word,” he said.

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Thomas D. Williams Ph.D.