09/05/2021, 14.22
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Pope: silence and listening, a remedy for the deafness of the heart

During the Angelus, Francis appealed again for Afghanistan that its people may live in fraternity and peace with their neighbours. On the eve of his trip to Budapest and Slovakia, he urged Europe to bear witness to the faith not only in words but in deeds. He greeted the Missionaries of Charity on the feast day of Mother Teresa.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – There is an “inner deafness” that is even more serious than the physical one, said Pope Francis. The best “medicine” to overcome it is silence, as well as listening to others and to the Word of God.

From the window on St Peter's Square, the pontiff today entrusted his message to the faithful in the usual Sunday appointment with the recitation of the Angelus. 

He also made an appeal again for the Afghan people and urged the faithful to pray for his trip to Hungary and Slovakia scheduled for next week.

Speaking about the Gospel passage in today's liturgy, which refers to the healing of the deaf-mute (Mk 7:33-34), Francis emphasised how the healing is told.

Jesus took the deaf-mute aside, placed his fingers in his ears and touched his tongue with saliva, then looked heavenward, sighed and said: “Ephphatha!”, i.e., “Be opened!”

“In other healings, Jesus does not do so many gestures,” Francis explained. “Why does he do all this now? Perhaps because the condition of that person had a particular symbolic value and something to say to all of us.”

“That man couldn't speak because he couldn't hear," he noted. This reminds us of “an interior deafness, which today we can ask Jesus to touch and heal. It is worse than the physical one because it's the deafness of the heart.”

“Caught up in a rush, by a thousand things to say and do, we do not find the time to stop and listen to those who speak to us.”

For the Pope, “We risk becoming impervious to everything and not giving room to those who need to be listened. I am thinking of children, young people, the elderly, and many who do not need words and sermons so much as listening.”

This raises questions for everyone. “How is my listening going? Do I let myself be touched by people's lives; do I know how to dedicate time to those close to me?”

Francis addressed them first to priests who “must listen to the people, not go in a hurry, see how they can help after listening.” 

Speaking about family life, the Pope said: “How many times do we speak without first listening, repeating the same stories. Unable to listen, we always say the usual things or do not let others finish talking. 

“The rebirth of dialogue often comes not from words, but from silence, from not getting stuck, from starting again with patience to listen to others, their pains, what they carry inside. The healing of the heart begins with listening."

Such an attitude also applies to the relationship with the Lord. “We do well to flood him with requests,” said the Pope, “but we would do better to listen to him first. Jesus asks for it. In the Gospel, when asked what the first commandment is, he replies: ‘Listen, Israel.’”

“We are Christians but perhaps, among the thousands of words we hear every day, we do not find a few seconds to make a few Gospel words resonate in us. But if we dedicated time to the Gospel, we would find a secret for our spiritual health. This is the medicine: every day a bit of silence and listening, a few useless words less and a few more Words of God.”

After the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis turned his attention to the tragedy of Afghanistan.

“In such trouble times that see Afghans seeking refuge, I pray for the most vulnerable among them. May many countries protect and welcome those who seek a new life. I pray for the internally displaced. May young Afghans receive an education and all Afghans live with dignity in peace and fraternity with their neighbours.”

The pontiff also mentioned the victims of Hurricane Ida in the United States. And, on the occasion of the Jewish New Year, he wished “the New Year be rich in fruits of peace and goodness for those who walk faithfully in the Law of the Lord.” 

Francis invited the faithful to pray for the apostolic journey to Hungary and Slovakia that he will undertake next week.

Remembering those who suffered persecution in these countries because of the Gospel, he expressed hope that remembrance will help “Europe witness not only with words but also with deeds and works of welcome to the good proclamation of the Lord who loves us and saves us.” 

Finally, on the feast liturgy of St Teresa of Calcutta, he greeted the Missionaries of Charity “engaged throughout the world in often heroic service”.

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