St. Dominic Catholic Church

2002 Merton Ave | Los Angeles, CA 90041 | (323) 254-2519


September 9, 2018 - 23rd Sunday Ordinary Time

(sign: point and use index finger to move in arc from mouth to ear)

I signed, “Are you deaf?” 

It would be pointless to ask out loud, right.

A deaf person’s not going to hear the question.

It’s an important question, and there may be more deaf people here than you’d think.

From which book of the Bible did our first reading come?

Who can finish this phrase from our opening prayer, “O God, by whom we are redeemed and receive _____”?

We may hear, but that doesn’t mean we listen.

Jesus healed many people who were deaf, and I need that healing, too.

I can hear, but I often don’t remember what people tell me.

It’s not that I have a bad memory; I don’t listen well.


It’s hard to listen if I’m texting someone else on my phone.

It’s hard to listen if I’m more interested in talking about myself.

With apologies to the musical Hamilton, I should “talk less…smile more.”

I’ll be known as a conversationalist… instead of being a bore.


One of the things that makes us deaf is our prejudice.

We all pre-judge – which simply means we have our minds made up about someone or some group.

It might be a positive or negative prejudice.

The letter of James (our second reading, in case you don’t remember) tells us that in the early Church some Christians were partial to people who were rich.

They were prejudiced againstthe poor.

Does that sound familiar?

How would a homeless person be treated if they came to Mass?

How do you feel when you see an encampment under the highway 2 overpass?

What pre-judgments do we apply to everyman, woman or child living on the streets?

St. James says when I show favoritism I set myself up as an evil judge.

Evil, because I don’t judge based on divine law, which says every person is beloved by God and thus worthy of my love.

Instead, my judgments are born from self-serving motives. 

The wealthy might contribute more to the capital campaign or the Sunday collection.

The poor are a burden because they want what I don’t want to give: money, time, compassion.


We pre-judge people for many reasons: they’re the wrong color, they are too old and stuck in their ways, or too young and irresponsible and untrustworthy.

Some people won’t tune in to CNN, others avoid Fox News like the plague.

We have many reasons why we should not listen to someone.

Is it any wonder we can hardly speak to one another?

It happens all the time in marriages, too – I hear it in painful confessions.

“I’m so impatient with her.”

“We don’t talk anymore, it’s like we have separate lives.”

There’s an old saying, “donde hay confianza da asco,” but really it mostly makes us deaf.

We hear what we want to hear to reinforce our prejudice, or we hear what we expect to hear.


Sometimes, I think, we willourselves to be deaf because we’ve been hurt by what others have said to us, or by what they’ve done.

Not listening becomes a way of self-protection. 

If someone is not listening to us, instead of complaining, we should examine our behavior towards them, including what we’ve said to them or done to them.

If we discover any ways in which we’ve hurt them, we have to speak clearly to them and help them hear us say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong.  Please forgive me.”


In the Gospel of St. Mark today, we hear that Jesus travelled into non-Jewish territory 

There, he cured a deaf man with a speech impediment.  

He can cure the deafness that keeps us from listening to each other, too.

He wants to put his fingers in our ears and say, “be opened.”

He wants us to hear His voice, and His constant invitation to conversion.

But it’s easier for Him to cure a person who is physically deaf than to cure us who are spiritually deaf.

Unfortunately, we are also deaf to God’svoice.

God speaks to us through the Scriptures, which challenge our thoughts and actions and show us how they are not consonant with His will.

In our parish survey last year, 50% of the Spanish-speaking respondents said they rarely or never read the scriptures! (45% for English-speaking respondents)

That’s spiritual deafness.  

It’s one of the reasons we find it so difficult to change, and why many of our relationships are so painful.


If you still think this Gospel doesn’t apply to you, I dare you to go home and ask your spouse, your children, your parents or good friends, to give you an honest answer to a simple question: “Do I really hear you?”

Just thinking about the question makes me beg Jesus to lay his hands on me.