Fr Thomas’ Reflection for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Father’s Day, Don’t Waste a Crisis        

Fathers remember the first time their child uttered “daddy” or the equivalent. The proud father, full of joy, made the babe repeat it many times until the child says it clearly. The exercise is pressed on until the infant get a sense of how much it means to the dad. The ability to communicate is very important. The child takes delight in the attention drawn by calling ‘dad’. The sweet call of the child transforms the dad. The responsibility of opening the world of affection and information becomes apparent to the dad.

The ability to hear and to speak forms our lives. Being unable to hear what is said to us is very isolating. The sense of liberation a deaf and mute person feels when healed of his impediment is amazing. Mark’s Gospel (7:31-37) has a story of Jesus healing a deaf and mute person in a gentile territory. It is part of the reading for this weekend’s liturgy. In the current situation, this story has some insights to enlighten us. People of pagan territory are not expected to hear and respond to God’s word. But the man is in a crisis: he cannot communicate even with the people of his own territory. He is deaf and mute. His crisis did something good for him. Because of it he is brought to Jesus, who can make the deaf hear and mute speak. Crises, after all, are not bad things. Limitations and crises are doorways to new and life-giving opportunities.

Father’s Day celebrations in Sydney this year are in crisis. Restaurants, entertainment venues, parks, churches, and all that you would normally count on to mark the day special are locked down. It is a crisis time. Because of that this can be a time of some good development for you. A crisis squeezes us more tightly than usual and what’s in us will come out more pronounced. Compelled to spend more time at home, communication with spouse, children and parents becomes more intimate and sometimes more intense. You are gifted with greater opportunities to hear dear ones, and speak to them from your heart. In hard times we must fix what is broken or perish. It’s a time to be more thoughtful of others, seek out the lonely and the family will feel truly bonded and inclusive. In the process you too benefit. You may recall times when your ears were opened to the news that you were loved – by God or by another person. Before the lockdown, you might not have had enough time and opportunity for what is deepest in you – your faith, your values, your love. Now that you have more time in hand, don’t waste a crisis. Jesus is with you, though it may look like you are shut out of the territory of God, the Church. Make your presence, your touch, and your word be that of Jesus. See ‘the miracle of the deaf and mute hearing and speaking’ unfolding in your life and rejoice. When the church, opens you and your family will enter it with ears open to God and tongues loosed to praise God from your heart.

May you and your family have a blessed Father’s Day!