Listening & Speaking

The gospel says a deaf man had a speech impediment. Who says there’s no comedy in the Bible. A deaf man had a speech impediment. How would deaf-guy know he has one!?


I wear hearing aids and have stuttered since the third grade. Jesus cures both by a finger in the ear and a touch of spit on the tongue. Cured with the line, “Be Opened.” Because both were closed. And, it worked.

Isaiah tells frightened hearts to “be strong, fear not.” God comes with “vindication, divine recompense; He comes to save you.”

My friends show me those divine things through their patience when I get anxious and can’t say the w…w…w…w…word I want to say.

But wait! What if Jesus isn’t talking about a physical loss of hearing or a silly stuttering problem. What if those appendages on both sides of your head hear but doesn’t listen? And what if the mouth’s impediment is speaking menacing words, hurtful nicknames for people, divisive, self-serving words? Can Jesus cure that? (If you don’t know who I’m talking about, buy a newspaper.)

Catholic Eyes and Ears

What if those untouched powerful Catholic ears don’t listen? What if the great Catholic mouths, with no spit from Jesus, give us obfuscation…a word that seems to apply to multiple situations in our country presently. “To render unclear,” the dictionary says, to “bewilder someone, it is more likely to obfuscate people than enlighten them.”

The pope is correct, this is truly is a time for prayer. However, we as “pew people” are holding on as best we can with proper hearing and polite speech. Like fingernails dug into the edge of a rocky rowboat wondering where the oars are. Those oars are you and me because the boat does not belong to the Catholic leadership nor does it belong to us. The boat is leased to us by God…with a hefty return clause. The praying part is on our end, we get that. The pope’s and the Catholic leaders’ end is a touch of Jesus in their ears with a pinch of spit on their tongues. Sounds like a sound recipe for cooking the Catholic Church with the great meal that Christ served us. However, the recipe that we thought was handled, served and now behind us is before us, again, only stronger. First, the dioceses in Pennsylvania and now all the dioceses in New York state and in the state of New Jersey and in St. Louis city.

I read one opinion article that concluded by saying if the Church doesn’t handle the problem internally, then it will be handled…externally. We are witnessing this, this time around.

Obfuscate – my new word!

Obfuscate. You don’t need to look that word up. We hear it every day both in our institutions and in our personal relationships. My hometown had a bar called, “The Library.” Coming home at 2:00 a.m., the husband could comfortably say, “Honey, I was at the library!” Can our ears and mouths express God’s vindication and divine recompense?

After saying an angry word to my grandmother, she washed my mouth out with soap. My mother told me to clean my ears, or I’d be growing potatoes. (What potatoes and ear wax have in common is known only to my mother.) But both messages worked on me. Luckily, my grandmother used Ivory soap. I can still taste it.

My ears and mouth are physical stuff. The stuff of our honest listening and honest speaking for us all is through our daily integrity and within our daily appraisal about “Who owns this boat?” It’s not to the Church but to the Creator who gave us ears and mouths to live and breathe His praises – in this place we call church.

             Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. all available on
                                                  “Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of humorous and reflective letters written by my cats over twenty years
                                                          “Soulful Muse,”

inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
                                                  “Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
                                        “Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture

                         “Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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