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JEREMIAH AND THE STONES THAT SPEAK

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Jeremias y mudos

 

Mk 7: 31-37

It was said about the people of Pilcara that they were mute as stones. On his arrival in that place, Jeremiah intended to change that situation « because  I was sent to make the blind see, the deaf hear and the mute speak. »

This is how Jeremiah was speaking:

For centuries, we were forced to keep silent. They would say to us: « Shut up! Not a word about what you see, hear and think! To those who ask you something, you answer: «Yes boss, yes Ma'am, yes Monsignor.»  If they ask how are you, you always answer: « Fine ». Nothing more. It's simple: if you want to survive, do as if you were blind, deaf or mute. Act as if you did not exist. Better lie down...And so, you will have no problem.

Fortunately, nowadays, things are changing. But still many do as if they did not see nor hear a thing or had nothing to say. Why? Because among us there is still fear, because many still believe that only important people have the right to speak out and that they only have rights and we none. Because we do not own anything or very little, we still believe that we are nothing. It has been like that forever. We have always known fear. Let us take a look at our history

- At the time of the Incas, do you think that the people were free to say what they thought?...

- At the time of the conquest and of the Spanish colonization, do you believe that the people (especially the indigenous people) had the right to give their opinion?

- Even nowadays, after two hundred years of independence, is it always easy for the people (especially for the indigenous people) to speak freely?

- The Church has constantly taught us that Jesus was opening the eyes of the blind, was making the deaf hear and the mute speak; but in reality, has she ever encourage us to express ourselves, to speak out, to judge, to think by ourselves and to say something else than « Amen » ?   Is it good for our health to spend our whole life without speaking out? Actually, why is it that God gave us two eyes, two ears and one tongue? Of course, it is true that we can kill someone with our tongue, but can we really live like humans if we do not talk?...

God speaks, yes or no?... Of course he does, if not, we would not have the Word of God. Now, it is precisely through his Word that God created all things. Without it, nothing exists, and all things exist thanks to it, writes the evangelist John. It is light, it is life, it is the creating power of God. It became flesh in Jesus so that in turn, we the humans, we become light, that we may have life and that we be creators. (John 1:3-4, 14)

Are we not images of God? If so, well, let us talk! Let us make things exist! Let us make our life exist! Let us stop living like dead people!

We have to learn to speak again. Jesus wants this, even if we do not know how to do it. At the beginning, we will inevitably be clumsy, a bit like the children who begin to speak with difficulty. That is why we have to practice between ourselves, with complete confidence, by giving ourselves the right to err. Only the dead never make a mistake.

When pushing their way through the crowd, some people bring to Jesus a poor man who was deaf and who grunted instead of speaking and Jesus brings him aside so that he can practice his speech. He brings him far enough from the onlookers so that nobody may come near and begin to make fun at him and say to him: « Shut up, you do not know how to talk! You are only an ignoramus! You did not even attend school. You're only a nitwit! You will not dare pretend that you understand something about the Word of God!...»...

It is with gentleness and assurance that Jesus comes across the deaf man who only knew how to grunt. First, he cures him of his deafness, because to learn to speak one must be capable of hearing. Then, he shows him how to speak well by telling him: « Do not be afraid anymore, my friend! Speak, since there is some wisdom within you. Speak, because you understand some things better than many scholars. Speak because only those people who have suffered like you can understand God and human beings...I give you praise, Father, you have revealed to the childlike many things that escape those who believe to know everything! »  (Mark 7: 31-37; Luke 10:21).

Organizing all sorts of happy activities, Jeremiah was encouraging the good people of Pilcara - the same who were told to be mute like stones- to dare speak about their things, their feelings, their worries, their dreams, their anger, their failures, their tastes, their doubts, their loves, especially about their story and their good deeds, and about what they knew of God and of his Word.

Jeremiah would explain to them that the Word of God which we found in the Bible was, in reality, the simple word of people like them, often very poor and subject to tough hardships. For many centuries, those people tried to decipher the language of God in Nature, in the events of their history and in their life experiences. They first looked with their eyes, and then they reflected and prayed a lot. Afterwards, they spoke together for a long time about what they had found. Finally, all of that was put down in writing.

It is up to us to do the same thing, would say Jeremiah.  God did not speak only in the past, but he still speaks to us today to keep on creating us, awakening us, enlightening us, comforting us and to work wonders among us. He spoke to us through Jesus and he still speaks to us today through him. Let us listen to his word.

Listen, would say Jeremiah, without swallowing everything, because in the Bible, there is good seed and also heaps of stones. Stones must not be swallowed. One has to sort out, pick first what one understands and what can nourish one's heart, and, afterwards, only what frees from fear and from any bondage. Sometimes, one has even to fight with the Word, like Jacob with the angel, like Job against God Himself, like Jesus who, being utterly dismayed, cries out to God: « Why have you abandoned me?...»

Moreover, Jeremiah reminds that if silence is better than words, as affirmed by some wise people, not every silence is good. Otherwise, Jesus would not have loosened the tongue of any mute person.

And there is how Jeremiah was speaking, and so many tongues in Pilcara were loosened. It was beautiful to hear that. A perfect  cacophony!... Even his dear enemy and successor, the old Teuton parish priest, recognized that. One day, meeting him in the street, the Teuton embraced him noisily and exclaimed himself with all admiration and astonishment: « Jeremiah, you performed an unbelievable miracle: you had the stones of Pilcara speak! But...now...»...With those words, he left without ending his sentence.

But now...« I have to silence them!...»  These are the words that had remained on the tip of the tongue of the Teuton.  His further actions demonstrated that ad nauseam. For example, with the preparatory catechesis for baptism, he would warn the parents and the godfathers against the Bible: « I who has studied at the Gregorian in Rome, I do not understand the Bible, and you, who have not even finished your elementary second grade, you believe that you will understand something?... Repeat after me: "I am only a nitwit!" Repeat what I am telling you, and louder, I cannot hear you!...»

This is how things are: some are sent to have the mute speak and others to silence those who dare speak out.

 

Eloy Roy

Translated from the French by Jacques Bourdages

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