September 6, 2015 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause
September 6, 2015
Mark 7: 31-37
Fr. George Smiga
One afternoon this summer, a car bomb exploded in a commercial district of Baghdad. Ten people were killed and many more were injured. Unfortunately such destruction is not unusual in the Iraqi capital. But there was something unusual that happened that afternoon. As the police and medical personnel were cordoning off the area, a man appeared in a black suit, his long hair combed back. He unfolded a small chair and sat down. Then, in the midst of the smoke and the rubble, he began to play his cello.
The man was Karim Wasfi. He was the conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra. He was there that afternoon, because he had decided to introduce humanity and beauty into the scenes of violence in his city. He said, “There are many people in Iraq who would turn every facet of our lives into a war zone. But I choose to turn every corner that I can into a spot of civility, beauty, and compassion.” As Mr. Wasfi played his cello, people stopped and began to listen. Many cried, and some prayed. This image of beautiful music being performed in a scene of destruction captures at least in part the ministry of Jesus.
During his life Jesus walked the cities of Galilee looking for those who were suffering and in need. In today’s gospel he opens the ears of a man who is deaf. Jesus’ mission was to bring the presence of God’s love into the lives of people that were wounded by disease and hopelessness. Now unlike Jesus, you and I cannot open the ears of the deaf or make the blind to see. But, like Mr. Wasfi, we can choose to bring goodness and beauty into situations that are marked by loss and despair.
We are not always able to protect our children from the influence of peer pressure. We cannot assure that they will avoid being bullied in their relationships. But we can make sure that they know that they are people of great value and have a dignity that no one can take away. We cannot eradicate poverty or unemployment in our society. But we can choose to place ourselves in settings where we meet the poor and the unemployed, listen to their stories, and share stories of our own. We cannot protect the people we love from the pain of sickness or the fear of dying. But we can sit at their bedside, remembering the good times, and showing them our love.
Like a musician playing the cello in a scene of devastation, we can choose to bring beauty and goodness to situations of suffering and to people without hope. And every time we take a stand for dignity and love, we not only help others. We also take up Jesus’ mission to manifest God’s love to the world.